Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
The Western Australian Minister for Ports, the Hon Alannah MacTiernan opened the expanded facilities of HR Wallingford’s state-of-the-art Australia Ship Simulation Centre on 6 February in Fremantle.
HR Wallingford has added two new purpose-built simulators to its world-leading centre in Fremantle, bringing the total number of simulators that it owns and operates there to six. This makes it one of the largest ship simulation centres in Australia and allows a full manoeuvring team (including pilots, tug masters and vessel traffic service (VTS) operators) to conduct integrated and immersive full port scenarios.
In her speech, the Minister emphasised the importance of ports to Western Australia’s economy, given the state’s substantial exports from the energy, mining and agricultural sectors.
She said: ‘I am delighted that HR Wallingford has invested in this centre, further helping to ensure the smooth running and safety of our ports. Specialist leading-edge facilities such as these are essential to ensure our ports and terminals are designed and operated to the highest of standards.’
Guests at the event were invited to try out the highly realistic Simulation System which were designed and built by HR Wallingford. The largest new simulator has an impressively wide beam of over 8metres and would typically be configured as a ship’s bridge, while four of the other simulators would typically represent tugs. It has been said that the system is extremely flexible and all simulators can be easily configured to simulate any type of vessel, as required. The sixth simulator is primarily intended to be set up as a VTS, but can also function as a secondary ship or tug bridge.
By building in flexibility in the configuration and operation of its simulators, the centre can meet a wide range of customer requirements, it is reported.
All the simulators can be linked together to represent a single virtual port environment or run separately to allow for a number of scenarios at one time.
HR Wallingford has extensively used one or more of its simulators for comprehensive port design work in Australia, for example for Chevron Australia’s Gorgon and Wheatstone LNG Terminals and Shell Australia’s Prelude FLNG.
It is understood that the linked simulators are also ideal for mariners to familiarise themselves with new port layouts, larger or new classes of ship, and to allow marine pilots and tug masters to practice specialist manoeuvres together.
HR Wallingford’s decision to expand the facility was prompted in part by a new four-year contract recently signed with the Pilbara Ports Authority (PPA) to provide integrated pilot and tug master training. PPA, which operates Port Hedland, the world’s largest bulk export port, has been carrying out training at the centre for the last six years.
Captain John Finch, General Manager of Operations at the PPA, said: ‘We are really impressed with the expanded facilities – they are ideally suited for our needs and have improved the realism for our marine pilots and tug masters. Safety is of paramount importance to us, so it is essential for the full port resource management team to be able to train together for particular situations, including emergency responses.’
Over the last eight years, HR Wallingford’s Australia Ship Simulation Centre has served many high-profile customers, including all Australia’s major LNG terminals, many bulk liquid companies and the west coast’s largest mining companies.
Our illustration shows HR Wallingford’s newly built ship bridge simulator with Manager Ben Spalding and Technical Development Scientist Josh Gorman.
HR Wallingford’s Ships and Dredging Group Manager, Dr Mark McBride, commented: ‘We are extremely proud of our UK and Australia Ship Simulation Centres, which draw on our 30+ years of experience in developing bespoke hardware and software. By building the systems ourselves, we can ensure they are sufficiently flexible to allow efficient modifications and updates to reflect any changes in port layouts or ships. We are also able to adapt scenarios quickly to meet particular port design and training needs.’
On 11 August the IMO reported that it had joined international efforts to assist the Government of Mauritius, following an oil leak from the bulk carrier mv Wakashio, which ran aground on 25 July off Pointe d’Esny natural area, south-eastern coast of Mauritius.
IMO and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)/United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Joint Environment Unit have jointly deployed an oil spill response expert. Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and border closures in Mauritius, the expert was (on 11 August) awaiting onward travel via specially chartered UN flight from Nairobi, following COVID tests.
Approximately 3,894 tonnes of low-sulphur fuel oil, 207 tonnes of diesel and 90 tonnes of lubricant oil were on board the Wakashio. An amount of oil leaked following severe weather.
It is understood that the affected area is located in a very sensitive zone that includes the Blue Bay Marine Park, Iles aux Aigrettes, and the Ramsar sites.
At the time of writing (11 August) satellite mapping support was being sought from UNOSAT, to provide an indication of the extent of the spill and to inform the response effort.
A new Just In Time Arrival Guide which aims to provide both port and shipping sectors with practical guidance on how to facilitate Just In Time Arrivals has been released. This was reported by IMO on 11 August.
To download the Guide readers are invited to see IMO web link here: http://www.imo.org/en/OurWork/PartnershipsProjects/Documents/GIA-just-in-time-hires.pdf
This Guide has been developed by the Global Industry Alliance to support low carbon shipping (Low Carbon GIA), based on research and discussion amongst its membership, and the Guide documents the findings of a series of industry roundtables which brought together nearly 50 companies and organizations who are key stakeholders in the port call process.