TOPVOYS: Tools for Optimizing Performance of VOYages at Sea

The project aims to implement analyses tools and decision support system for voyage optimization and to find the “best route” for a ship based on the marine weather forecasts, ship characteristics and cargo requirements.


Building on the Copernicus Marine Environmental Monitoring Service (CMEMS) and recent new capacities in satellite observations, the overall goal of the TOPVOYS (Tools for Optimizing Performance of VOYages at Sea) project proposal submitted to ERA-NET Cofund under the MarTERA call is to advance and implement analyses tools and decision support system for voyage optimization. This is highly important for the maritime waterborne transport sector including safety and security and will strengthen transnational research and development in maritime and marine technologies in support to Blue Economy and Blue Growth. Optimum ship routing means the “best route” for a ship based on the marine weather forecasts including wind, wave and surface current conditions, ship characteristics and cargo requirements. For most voyages this will mean the minimum transit time that avoids significant risk to the vessel, crew and cargo. The goal is not to avoid all adverse weather, waves and current conditions but to find the best balance to minimize time of transit, mimit fuel consumption and reduce emissions without placing the vessel at risk to damage or crew injury.

Today ship route planners take into account weather patterns, marine forecasts of wind, waves and surface currents together with numerous other operational and environmental factors. All this data and information are ingested and merged to provide captains and fleet managers with speed-setting guidance along an optimum route in order to safely and efficiently achieve a desired ETA. However, there is often lack of quality and thus confidence in the forecast, whereby decisions may ignore such information. TOPVOYS will add new information and tools to strengthen the provision of ocean surface waves and current analyses and forecasts by integrating new satellite-based measurements of ocean surface currents, ocean waves, sea surface temperature and wave-current refraction, together with surface drifter observations, multiple operational ocean model fields as well as navigation and performance information from ships.

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Project Summary

The global shipping routes connects the major open oceans, semi-enclosed seas, straits and channels. During voyages all vessels must respect and comply with laws and regulations set in operation and determined by the United Nations Law of the Sea and the International Maritime Organization. The provision of advanced and reliable ship routing tools and services have a large downstream use and application.  The main goal of the TOPVOYS project is to develop, test, implement and provide reliable voyage optimization capitalizing on new advances in observation-based tools and decision support system. The cross-cutting skills and transnational partnership ensured by the consortium allow for a comprehensive global view and understanding of the major challenges and deficiencies with respect to ship routing.  As such, TOPVOYS aims to advance:

  1. Searching, accessing, downloading, processing and analyzing of near real time satellite data for surface current retrievals;
  2. Operational use of sensor synergy and visualization platform;
  3. Automated tools and machine-learning system for routing planning and optimization;
  4. Voyage undertakings and ship performance monitoring; and
  5. Post-voyage analyses and assessment.
Project Details
NERSC Principal Investigator: 
Johnny A. Johannessen
Coordinating Institute: 
Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center
Project Status: