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.’
Coronavirus: Let’s keep ships moving, ports open and cross-border trade flowing
Statement on 25 March by UNCTAD Secretary-General, Dr Mukhisa Kituyi
Note: There is a series of related links to be found at the foot of this article*
‘As the world battles the coronavirus pandemic, the global maritime transport industry is playing a critical role in the response.
‘A call by the industry to all governments to keep maritime trade moving by allowing commercial ships continued access to ports worldwide and by facilitating the rapid changeover of ships’ crews should not go unheeded.
‘Around 80% of global trade is transported by commercial shipping, which moves the world’s food, energy and raw materials, as well as manufactured goods and components, according to UNCTAD statistics.
‘This includes vital medical supplies, which are sorely needed at this time, and items that are necessary for the preservation of many jobs in manufacturing – without which modern society cannot function.
Trinity House has been closely monitoring the developments of the impact of COVID-19 and has followed advice provided by HM Government.
With regard to its function as the General Lighthouse Authority (GLA) for England, Wales, the Channel Islands and Gibraltar, the Trinity House priority is to keep staff safe while delivering its statutory functions.
The three GLAs of the UK and Ireland* are deemed essential services vital for the safety of marine navigation and the continuous flow of food, fuel, medical and hygiene supplies, along with the many other commodities upon which the nation depends daily.
In accordance with Government advice a significant majority of Trinity House personnel are now working from home where possible, but some staff are required to attend their normal workplace because of the essential nature of their work.