BNWAS (Bridge Navigational Watch Alarm System) regulations state that existing cargo vessels between 500-3000GT must be compliant by July 2013 and vessels between 150-500GT by July 2014.
The Lloyd’s Register MED-approved Navgard Mini offers the same functionality as Martek’s Navgard system in a smaller, all-in-one-box unit.
The company claims that it is the only system available which has all IMO-compliant alarms and reset switches in a single enclosure, only requiring a power supply to deliver full compliance with SOLAS regulations.
Existing systems require a button to be pushed to confirm the crew’s presence on the bridge. IMO legislation dictates that BNWAS systems’ first stage alarm must sound between every three to 12 minutes.
If the reset button is not pressed, the second stage will activate after 15 seconds. If the button is still not pushed, the third alarm will sound between every 90 to 180 seconds.
Although effective in theory, Martek notes that there have been several incidents, including the grounding of MV Karin Schepers in 2009, on vessels which have had BNWAS installed but switched off.
Martek suggests that this is because crew have simply found it too demanding to continue with other necessary work while being disturbed by such frequent alarms and the requirement to push a button so regularly, so it has set out to address this issue with its equipment.
One of the ways it has done this is with the inclusion of a passive infrared (PIR) motion sensor. This is built in to the device’s panel and detects movement on the bridge. No alarm sounds as long as movement is detected on the bridge, and crew can work undisturbed.
Only when the system detects no movement for a set time, between the IMO’s mandated three and 12 minutes, will the alarms sound. Because the PIR sensor is part of the panel, no extra installation is required and no additional wiring is needed.
The second such feature is a password deactivation capability, also built in to the panel. Where BNWAS models have traditionally been turned off by a simple key, the Navgard Mini can only be deactivated by password. This increases accountability by giving the vessel’s Master the sole responsibility for the device’s operation.
The system comes with a two-year warranty and uses real-time data logging, providing evidence in the event of an incident and recording when the system is switched on and off so that checks can be made to ensure it is being used continuously.