Modern technology improves safety for mooring hooks



Per Bjerring, MARIMATECH, Hinnerup, Denmark


As technology progresses within the industry, safety is becoming an essential feature of building a new terminal and sustaining older terminals, which are now  changing old bollards in favour of quick release hooks. Safety is crucial when constructing LNG terminals so all new terminals are now being equipped with quick release mooring hooks.

All Marimatech hooks have the option of being fitted with a load pin which can measure the tension of the mooring lines. The majority of mooring hooks have the facility to measure line tension using an MLMS system, which will measure each individual mooring line providing feedback to the control room. The technology of releasing hooks has undergone radical development since it was introduced over 20 years ago. All hooks can be released manually using a mechanical lever situated on the hook itself; however more and more hooks are now being supplied with electrical or hydraulic actuators allowing for easy release by the simple push of a button.

Typically a control panel is placed in the control room, where ideally the operator can see the jetty, although this is not always the case. The new Marimatech release panel combines touch screen technology with a small control panel (see Figure 1). The touch screen interface allows for a user-friendly design, consisting of animations which show the operator an overview of all the hook stations.

He can then access each individual hook station and see specific information, such as individual line tension and hook status (open/closed). The line tension is shown on a simple graph which will display the exact tension of each line. The graph shows the level of tension that would be dangerous and if the tension exceeds this level a warning will be displayed on the screen. This new technology allows the operator to release a single hook, a hook station or all hook stations in a  sequential order. The operator uses the touch screen to select which hooks or hook stations he wants to release and then presses the physical release button to
activate the release. On the subject of actual release, the touch screen is only a selection tool. To activate or confirm the release the operator will have to press the physical release button below the screen. This is so to eliminate the chance of an accidental release.

Marimatech now offers the technology for remote release using an industrial PDA or a ruggedised tablet PC (see Figure 2). This arrangement has the same premise as the control room PC, where the operator chooses which hooks, or hook stations to release. To guarantee an accidental release does not happen, the operator
will have to enter a code to confirm the release, as a substitute to having physical release buttons as in the control room.

The remote release technology makes it possible for the dockmaster or ship pilot to be the operator of the quick release hooks. The PDA is connected to the system using wireless technology which makes for reliable communications between the PDA and the hooks. Needless to say there is a considerable degree of danger when activating the release functions of a hook, which may not always be visible to the operator. This new technology significantly improves the safety of a release operation while also making it a simple and effortless process.

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