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.’
One of Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani’s last duties before leaving office on 13 February was to make a written statement on Light Dues, the means of financing the marine aids to navigation services of the United Kingdom.
In the document she said: ‘A strong and growing maritime industry is vital to the economy of the United Kingdom and it is critical that we treasure and protect this vital artery if we are to remain a world-leading maritime centre.
‘The work of the General Lighthouse Authorities2, which provide and maintain marine aids to navigation and respond to new wrecks and navigation dangers in some of the busiest waters in the world, is crucial to underpinning that vision whilst maintaining our vigorous safety record and continuously improving standards of safety.
‘Reductions in the three General Lighthouse Authorities’ running costs have enabled the UK to reduce light dues on four occasions since 2014. For 2020 to 2021 I intend to freeze light dues rates at 37½ pence per net registered tonne. This will mean that light dues will have fallen by 30% in real terms since 2010.
‘Light dues rates will continue to be reviewed on an annual basis to ensure that the General Lighthouse Authorities are challenged to provide an effective and efficient service which offers value for money to light dues payers.’
New hubs of business and enterprise will be opened across the UK creating thousands of jobs, regenerating communities and turbocharging Britain’s post-Brexit growth, the Government announced on 10 February.
Up to ten new innovative Freeports will be opened across the UK as the Government seeks to level up the country and seize on the opportunities leaving the EU has presented. This was the style of a news item delivered on behalf of HM Treasury.
A consultation has been launched setting out the Government’s vision for Freeports, with the aim of announcing the location of the new zones at the end of this year so they can be open for business in 2021.
It is understood that once the ten-week consultation is completed, the Government will invite sea, air and rail ports to bid for Freeport status on a competitive basis.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Rishi Sunak, said: ‘Freeports will unleash the potential in our proud historic ports, boosting and regenerating communities across the UK as we level up. They will attract new businesses, spreading jobs, investment and opportunity to towns and cities up and down the country.
‘This is all part of our mission as an open, outward-looking country, championing global free trade with vibrant Freeports that work for all of the UK.’