New apps make the mariner’s work easier, smarter and safer
Michael Matulewicz, a recently hired deck hand with Moran Towing in Philadelphia, never needs to wait too long in the sun or rain to board his tug on crew change days.
“I use the MarineTraffic app to see if my tug is at the dock on days I am scheduled to head out for my job,” Matulewicz told Professional Mariner. “We usually do crew changes at noon, and the ability to keep tabs on my vessel before I leave home is a great convenience.
“I know friends in the business that also use the app to do the same.”
Vessel-locator smartphone applications, including the MarineTraffic app, below, can tell you where a ship is. Above, the Samson app aids rope assessment.
Matulewicz’s current job requires him to work Moran tugs in the Delaware River and Delaware Bay areas, which is where he uses the app. MarineTraffic watches the positions of more than 80,000 vessels globally on an interactive AIS map, with arrivals and departures recorded in real time.
The app allows the user to customize the experience by maintaining a list of vessels (“My Fleet”), whose whereabouts appear on the iPhone screen in distinct colors. This feature affords Matulewicz an added benefit: the ability to keep track of the whereabouts of his mariner friends who are out at sea.
Matulewicz, a fresh SUNY Maritime College graduate who plans to sit for his license in early 2014, speaks to a growing trend: apps customized for the commercial mariner.
These apps cover the gamut of the typical seafarer’s trade. Jeppesen, for example, offers Plan2Nav, an app meant to complement the onboard chartplotter. Apart from allowing the user to chart the route, set waypoints and measure the distance for each leg of the journey, Plan2Nav offers weather forecasts five days out.
Samson offers an app that serves as an “all-inclusive technical rope guide,” featuring a detailed rope inspection checklist and splice instructions. The app allows the user — via rope screenshots that can be compared against the task at hand — to understand what corrective action is necessary, including whether re-splicing is an option or the rope needs to be retired.
There are several weather-related apps from various vendors. Linguo, albeit not tailored only toward the mariner, is a convenient app for multilingual translations, for situations in foreign ports that a U.S. mariner may occasionally encounter.
The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has introduced apps that allow international mariners to check on the bona fides of the ship they might be hired on, or to enable mariners — U.S. and foreign alike — to locate the nearest seafarer’s center or the coordinates of the local ITF inspector.
Sherwin-Williams has recently launched the SeaGuard app, providing users with protective coating recommendations for oil tankers, chemical tankers and offshore support vessels.
“It’s a convenient alternative to bulky binders stuffed with outdated product data sheets. If a new product is introduced, or an old product is no longer manufactured, SeaGuard has the updated information,” Sherwin-Williams said in a press release.
The CFR Title 46 app places the U.S. maritime statute at the fingertips of legally inclined mariners, with no need to lug law textbooks around.