Bechtel launched a new research initiative to improve the safety of mooring large cargo ships off the coast of West Africa. The combination of heavy ocean swell, squalls and shallow coastlines can create unpredictable conditions which limit the number of dry bulkers that can be moored safely in the area. The results of this research aim to provide new mooring guidelines and systems, which will improve the transfer and transshipment of natural resources from the region.
Bechtel’s senior ports specialist, Marco Pluijm, who chairs the new joint-industry project, announced the new research initiative at the Smart Ports Seminar in Wageningen, Netherlands. “The conditions in West Africa make it difficult to export natural commodities in newer vessels that are larger than the Panamax, which could be more cost-effective for dry bulk transport companies. We will identify ways to mitigate the high downtime effects and provide innovative off-shore mooring solutions, to make it safer and more efficient for operators wanting to use Capesize vessels for dry bulk.” In addition to this project, the company also chairs ROPES, a joint-industry initiative studying the effects of a ship’s wash on moored ships in ports.
The new three-year research project will start in the third quarter of 2013 and involve testing and data collection in Liberia, Guinea, Gabon or Cameroon as well as the Netherlands. The results will be used to create new recommendations for improved mooring of the largest vessels currently available, including Capesize and Very Large Ore Carriers. It will also provide a better understanding on potential applications of dynamic mooring systems and improved conditions for transshipment. Port authorities, maritime research institute representatives, pilots, linesmen, consultancies and hardware suppliers will participate in the study.
Bechtel is a global leader in the research, design and construction of port and marine projects. The company has successfully completed more than 80 port and marine projects across the world, 28 of these in the last decade. These include Jubail Port and Industrial City and Khalifa port and Kizad, which has the first semi-automated container terminal in the Middle East.