Bechtel unveils results of port research initiative

London — Bechtel announced the results of the Research on the Passing Effects on Ships (ROPES) project, a joint-industry study to improve the safety of shipping ports. The results, unveiled at the PIANC World Congress in San Francisco, confirmed that in restricted waters, the wash from passing ships can exert large forces on moored vessels, mooring lines and fender loads, creating dangerous conditions. The research also concluded that the forces from the wash are directly influenced by the shape of the port basin, the size of the vessel, the passing distance, and the passing speed. Based on the findings, researchers have developed a software program to immediately improve the safety of ports and created guidelines for use in the planning and design of future ports.

“Our research has identified the full effects of a passing ship’s wash and the impact is serious,” said Marco Pluijm, Bechtel’s ports-sector manager and chair of ROPES. “The wash can compromise safety, cause environmental damage and result in financial loss. Based on a comprehensive set of experimental, computational and full-scale data, we have developed valuable, user-friendly software to help mitigate these effects, and created guidance for the planning and design of new ports.”

The ROPES research project was carried out over three years and investigated the impact of the wash created when ships move in and out of ports. In recent years, the size, speed, and power of ships have increased dramatically, creating larger wash. This can cause moored ships to come loose and affect the safe loading and unloading of vessels. The study was conducted in multiple phases that included extensive computer-simulation, scale-model testing, as well as full-scale testing in the Port of Rotterdam, Netherlands.

The ROPES group participants, who are leading authorities in the ports industry, will now start using the software to mitigate the effects of wash in existing ports, and will implement the recommended guidelines in the planning and design of new ports. The group’s 25 members include port authorities, maritime research institute representatives, pilots, linesmen, consultancies, and hardware suppliers. Bechtel was the only engineering, project management and construction company involved in this initiative.

Bechtel has overseen more than 80 port and harbor projects across the world, including 28 in the last decade. Notable projects include Jubail Port in Saudi Arabia, Port of Los Angeles Container Terminal, Port Hay Point Coal Terminal in Australia, and the recently completed Khalifa Port in the United Arab Emirates. The company has been instrumental in leading pioneering, international joint-industry research to make shipping safer.


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