This paper presents an overview of a five year research and development project aiming to develop dynamic positioning (DP) system technologies specifically for ice-rich environments. It has been initiated by the Centre for Marine Simulation (CMS) at the Fisheries and Marine Institute (MI) of Memorial University of Newfoundland, with its technical partner National Research Council’s Ocean Coastal and River Engineering (OCRE-NRC) and commercial partner Kongsberg Maritime Simulation Ltd. (KMS). The primary objective of the project is to develop solutions for some of the critical challenges related to safe Arctic offshore operations by dynamic positioning. More specifically, the objective is to improve the safety and efficiency of oil and gas operations in ice infested environments through the enhancement of existing DP system technologies and training of DP operators in simulated realistic ice environments for ship operations. The project is envisioned to achieve its objective through developing a modularized simulation platform for prototype integration, validation, testing and operational studies/training. Prototypes of a DP control system, a vessel model, an ice force model, and other environmental force models will be developed.

The project commenced in 2013 and is set to complete in late 2018. In this first article of the project, a discussion on the contextual aspects and formation of the project, its planning and status to-date is presented. A synopsis of the scientific and engineering research performed to-date within the project scope, with a justification of their relevance to the safe DP operations in ice is given. The high level system design of the validation platform and the deployment strategies of its major components are presented. An introductory discussion on the novel ice force modeling approach is provided. Finally, an overview of the model test program of a fully DP controlled vessel in managed ice conditions, which was completed to provide a database for building and validating the ice force model, is also offered.

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