Blending heritage with contemporary innovation, Sperry Marine creates quality navigation systems 

Sperry Marine, part of Northrop Grumman Mission Systems, is a leading provider of safe, efficient, and reliable navigation, communication, and automation solutions for the commercial marine and naval markets. With over 100 years of industry expertise, the business boasts an impressive internal presence in ten countries across Europe, Asia, and the Americas. 

Established in 1997, Sperry Marine was formed through the merger of three well-known names in the marine industry: Sperry Gyrocompass, C. Plath, and Decca. Together, the three brands combine more than 150 years of experience in producing navigation solutions and services. Sperry Gyrocompass, for instance, was formed in 1910 and was responsible for innovative inventions like the marine gyrostabilizer and the gyrocompass.

Ralf Magner, Business Unit Director of Products and Systems
Ralf Magner, Business Unit Director of Products and Systems

Similarly, C. Plath is a name that makes the hearts of skippers jump, as Plath’s compasses and autopilots represent the utmost precision, reliability, and quality. On the other hand, having launched the world’s first true motion radar and the first anti-collision radar, The Decca Company (Decca) also plays a key role in Sperry Marine’s heritage. After contributing its military engineering expertise to the British war effort during World War II, Decca went on to create several commercial ventures, particularly the Decca Navigator System and the Decca Radar Company. 

We’re joined by Ralf Magner, Business Unit Director of Products and Systems, to learn more about the company’s evolution and its current operations. “Sperry Marine develops and manufactures a wide range of networked navigation solutions, including key navigation sensors and systems such as Radar, Compasses, ECDIS, Autopilots, Speed Logs, Steering Systems, and Integrated Navigation Systems (INS),” Ralf opens. “We also offer additional systems like Echosounders, GMDSS, and communication systems to create complete navigation solutions tailored to various types of vessels. 

“Due to the growing trend of shipbuilding in Asia and the need to provide cost-effective yet high-quality solutions, Sperry Marine has adapted its manufacturing process in recent years. We’ve established a partnership-driven supply chain for our developed products, which enables us to ensure scale in fluctuating markets and stay up to date with the latest technologies. This approach has proven successful, especially during disruptions like Covid, as we can provide products from stock with minimal disruption to customer projects and global spare parts availability. 

“As part of our commitment to provide high-quality service that ensures first-time fixes and continuous improvements to our global service network, we’ve added a service network in Korea and strengthened our presence across North America,” he adds. “Our new office in Busan, South Korea, offers enhanced logistics and spares support to provide immediate availability in the region.  

Customer engagement  

“With an established presence in North America, we understand the vast differences between ports and aim to improve responsiveness through new service locations. We’ve recently extended our reach to the US East and West Coasts, which will enhance on-board attendance on key shipping routes and ports and ultimately provide better support to our customers. 

“We’ve also added a new demo room in Hamburg, Germany, which allows customers to directly experience the latest INS functionalities,” Ralf continues. “This model enables us to showcase new features, third-party integration support, and the connectivity of cutting-edge bridge technology, as well as encouraging face-to-face discussions about tailored solutions. As it has been a huge success, we may replicate the demo room concept in other regions to enhance customer engagement.”  

Strong supplier network 

As Ralf explains, Sperry Marine’s integrated navigation systems allow a smaller footprint and higher degree of integration levels and have enabled new contract wins. “The demand for enhanced integrated systems like incorporating an Ice Radar with the Navigation Radar has increased with projects like our work on new German vessels at Wuhu Shipyard in China,” he elaborates. “For this project, we were tasked with creating a new ergonomic console design within strict space limitations, as well as integrating navigation and back-of-bridge solutions to meet DNV NAUT(OC) class regulation to enable access to the ice and navigation radars at various operating locations.” 

Aside from manufacturing, Sperry Marine leverages a diverse portfolio and a mature supplier network to ensure constant availability of its products around the globe. “We have a broad portfolio and decades of engineering excellence,” Ralf states. “To scale availability of our products across the globe, we’ve established a supplier and service partner network that brings us closer to customers and draws on several automated processes. 

“Our robust vetting process for external products and seamless customer service also contributes to our strong reputation in the industry. By working closely with third-party manufacturers and focusing on quality, cost-effectiveness, and demand management, we’ve been able to maintain stock availability even during the difficult circumstances that have plagued the market over the last few years.”  

Seamless solutions 

With a rich heritage, a robust supply chain, and an emphasis on quality throughout the manufacturing process, Sperry Marine is set to experience continued success and market domination. “Our focus this year is on enhancing passenger experience and operational efficiency through extended capabilities in our integrated navigation system offering,” Ralf reveals. “We are committed to offering seamless, integrated solutions for mariners aboard vessels, from planning to execution of voyages. 

“We aim to continue providing trusted and reliable navigation products to help decarbonize the shipping industry, and we’re expanding our footprint, as well as optimizing existing locations to meet growing demands. Also, by investing in a global ERP and service system, we aim to enhance digitalization levels to further improve responsiveness and effectiveness. 

“Overall, our investments in radar technology, fuel-saving autopilots, and modern charting systems, along with a focus on effective service offerings, position us to be a leader for INS and a continued partner for various radar applications,” Ralf concludes.