Better docking for both pilots and terminals



Peter Selwyn, Chief Executive, Navicom Dynamics


When it comes to technology that can help to increase safety and efficiency in ports, one of the most significant areas to focus on is ship movements within ports. This article provides suggestions on the best practices to meet the increasing demands on port infrastructure. Recommendations are given for providing the safest, most efficient manner for moving ever increasing sizes of ships in and out of their berths.

Factors to consider

Part of the problem is in the infrastructure of a port itself and how wharves have been constructed. Other considerations must account for what kind of fenders are fitted at a wharf and how bigger ships are affecting them. The British Standard on the subject, BS6349 Part 4, recently updated its 2014 edition to read:

A means of significant risk reduction is the installation of equipment on board the ship or on the berth to monitor the vessel’s berthing velocities, both normal to the berth and rotational as well as berthing angles to ensure that they are maintained within permissible operating limits. Such equipment could be either fixed jetty-based systems with display units visible from the ship’s bridge, or portable piloting units carried by the pilot.

This states that lower safety factors can be justified in the design of a wharf if suitable equipment is selected that will reduce risk. This constitutes clear guidance towards cost saving to structural designers so long as there is appropriate investment in risk mitigation technology. So, the big question is – what risk reduction measures are available and how do they measure berthing velocities and angles? Methods commonly employed include laser docking systems, though these have disadvantages in that each system only works at the berth on which it is fitted (not during the approaches), the points at which lasers are directed onto a ship are rarely the ends of the ship; there are hull reflectivity issues on some vessels.

Portable Pilot Units

The primary alternative…

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