US-based engineering company Bechtel has started a research project to find out ways to improve the safety of mooring cargo ships on the West African coast, which often face unpredictable weather conditions.
Heavy ocean swell, squalls and shallow coastlines make it difficult for large vessels to be moored safely in the region.
During the three-year study, Bechtel’s researchers aim to provide new mooring guidelines and systems that could help in the transport of natural resources from the region.
Bechtel senior ports specialist Marco Pluijm said the hostile conditions in West Africa make it difficult to export natural commodities in newer vessels that are larger than the Panamax, which would be more cost-effective for dry bulk transport companies.
"We will identify ways to mitigate the high downtime effects and provide innovative offshore mooring solutions, to make it safer and more efficient for operators wanting to use Capesize vessels for dry bulk", Pluijm said.
The study is scheduled to commence in the third quarter of 2013 and during the study the researchers will collect data in Liberia, Guinea, Gabon, Cameroon and the Netherlands.
Other participants in the study include port authorities, maritime research institute representatives, pilots, linesmen, consultancies, and hardware suppliers.
The study will offer new recommendations for mooring large vessels safely including Capesize bulkers and Very Large Ore Carriers.
Bechtel is also chairing a joint-industry initiative called ROPES to study the effects of a ship’s wash on moored ships in ports.
Caption: The three year study will offer ways to moor large vessels safely, including Capesize and Very Large Ore Carriers. Photo courtesy: Bechtel.