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.’
IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim has welcomed the World Health Organization’s decision to name seafarers as one of the groups of transportation workers that should be prioritised for Covid-19 vaccination in instances of limited supplies. This was reported on 22 July.
Updated guidance for Stage II of its vaccine roadmap from the WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) states: ‘Seafarers and air crews who work on vessels that carry goods and no passengers, with special attention to seafarers who are stranded at sea and prevented from crossing international borders for crew change due to travel restrictions.’
IMO Secretary General Lim commented: ‘I am glad to see that the WHO recognises the importance of vaccinating seafarers on cargo ships.
‘These individuals are responsible for transporting over 80% of all goods around the world, including food, medicine and vaccine supplies – and have continued to do so despite extremely challenging circumstances. Seafarers will play a key role in the global recovery, and barriers to international travel and crew change must be removed.’
On 28 September 2019, a cargo tank containing styrene monomer on board the Cayman Islands registered chemical tanker Stolt Groenland ruptured causing an explosion and fire. The tanker was moored alongside a general cargo berth in Ulsan, Republic of Korea and the Singapore registered chemical tanker Bow Dalian was moored outboard. Ignition of the styrene monomer vapour resulted in a fireball, which reached the road bridge above. Both vessels were damaged, and two crew suffered minor injuries. Fifteen emergency responders were injured during the fire-fighting, which lasted for over six hours.
Rupture of the styrene monomer tank resulted from a runaway polymerisation that was initiated by elevated temperatures caused by heat transfer from other chemical cargoes. Elevated temperatures caused the inhibitor, added to prevent the chemical’s polymerisation during the voyage, to deplete more rapidly than expected. Although the styrene monomer had not been stowed directly adjacent to heated cargo, the potential for heat transfer through intermediate tanks was not fully appreciated or assessed.