CONTAINER ships would be far too big to journey along the Thames to Wallingford.
But staff from a firm based in Crowmarsh Gifford have set up a ship simulation centre to train staff to develop the best methods to handle ships and enter and leave ports safely.
Earlier this month the Madrid Maersk, the latest in a long line of record-breaking container ships, arrived safely at the Port of Felixstowe’s newest quay, after using technology developed at HR Wallingford, based at Howbery Business Park.
As the world’s current biggest container ship, weighing in at 214,286 tonnes, and 399 metres long, the Madrid Maersk is expected to set a record for carrying the maximum number of standard-sized containers on its return leg to Asia.
Dr Mark McBride, HR Wallingford’s ships group manager, said: “The state-of-the-art ship simulation centre at HR Wallingford provided the perfect platform for the Harwich Haven Authority pilots and tug masters to carry out feasibility and design studies for the ever increasing size of container ships.”
“We have developed accurate ship manoeuvring models to simulate close quarters operations, with the pilots and tug masters using the integrated ship and tug simulators for their continued training and development.”
“This level of precision enables us to continue to provide the highest level of service to satisfy the demanding requirements of the container ship industry.”
Harwich Haven Authority Pilots and tug masters used HR Wallingford’s Oxfordshire-based UK Ship Simulation Centre to train and develop the best methods to handle the ship, and determine the limits of the conditions in which it could enter and leave the port safely.
Neil Glendinning, CEO of Harwich Haven Authority, said: “On June 6 Harwich Haven Authority Pilots safely conducted the Madrid Maersk on her inaugural visit to the Port of Felixstowe in very challenging environmental conditions.”
“Preparation for the arrival of this first of the second generation Maersk Triple E Class vessel had included detailed feasibility simulation studies at HR Wallingford, which gave our pilots the confidence to safely handle the largest vessel in operation in such challenging conditions, and to deliver the highest level of service to one of our major customers.“
Captain Ian Love piloted the Madrid Maersk into Felixstowe in ‘adverse’ weather conditions, with wind speeds of between 28 and 35 knots with occasional gusts above 40 knots, which had been shown to be feasible in the simulator.
Harwich Haven Authority Special Category Ship Pilots carried out familiarisation sessions in tug simulators at HR Wallingford to determine how the ship would handle in comparison to other large container ships, and to determine the limits within which the new vessel could be manoeuvred safely.
Captain Love said: “The hydrodynamic forces acting on these mega container vessels are enormous, often peaking at 900 tonnes.”
“For a pilot, the ability to understand, quantify, and use these forces to their advantage has never been greater.”
HR Wallingford is a civil engineering company and delivers practical solutions to the complex water-related challenges faced by its international clients.
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Source: Herald Series