The Research on the passing effects on ships (ROPES) project, an international initiative led by Bechtel, has now moved from computer simulation to testing involving ships in port.
The research investigates the impact of the wash created when ships move in and out of ports. The wash can cause moored ships to come loose. It also affects the safe loading and unloading of vessels, which can lead to dangerous situations particularly during the transfer of oil, gas and hazardous materials.
"In recent years, the size, speed and power of ships have increased dramatically, increasing the size of their wash,” said Marco Pluijm, Bechtel's senior ports specialist and chair of ROPES. “The impact of the wash is a serious concern which can result in safety issues, environmental damage and financial loss. Until now, little research has been done on this subject. Our research is identifying the full-effect of a passing ship's wash and what can be done in terms of port design to mitigate that."
The research, which began in 2010, is being conducted in multiple phases that have included extensive computer-simulation, scale-model testing, and now full-scale testing in the Port of Rotterdam, Netherlands. The results of the study are due in 2013.
The ROPES group is comprised of approximately 25 members including port authorities, maritime research institute representatives, pilots, linesmen, consultancies, and hardware suppliers. Bechtel is the only engineering and construction company involved in this initiative.