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23/06/2021 10:34 AM

Seabed sensors increase safety for ships in Port Kembla

Port Kembla's oceanographic and metrological sensors upgraded in a multi-port operation by Port Authority of New South Wales' Marine Operations and Hydrographic Survey teams.

Safe navigation for ships entering Port Kembla will improve following a project to install new sensors on the seabed to relay water current velocities to captains and marine pilots.

In a joint operation between Port Authority's Port Kembla and Sydney Marine Operations and Hydrographic Survey teams, two Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler (ADCP) devices were installed on the seafloor along with 1km-long, 1.7-tonne armoured cable to connect the sensor to the port's northern breakwater laid with a special-purpose 2-tonne braked cable drum stand. Four concrete blocks were used to fix the cable in position and prevent movement into the shipping fairway, while the existing eastern cable was removed following damage sustained from a vessel anchor.  

“Accurate current measurement across the entrance of Port Kembla Harbour is a key factor to safely navigate through the breakwaters and into port,” said Port Authority Group Survey Manager, Venessa O’Connell. 

“Marine pilots utilise current speed and directions at varying depths, 6m, 10m and, 14m depending on the class of vessel, to anticipate vessel handling characteristics, set and drift, prior to commencing a turn into and out of Port Kembla Harbour. This is particularly critical for the largest capesize-class vessels, especially when they are lighter in the water. 

“This complex task, previously managed and performed wholly by external contractors was conducted with inhouse resources.  Divers were the only external party. This project demonstrates the positive attitude, high skillset and great resources possessed by Port Authority's teams.’’ 

The Hydrographic Survey team conducted surveys pre- and post-lay to determine the safest route for the cable that worked around the surrounding reefs. In addition to waterside works, the team designed and installed a new electronics system to provide constant power and communications to the sensors. 

Phil Azzopardi, Marine Operations Manager, Sydney, said, “the ability of two different marine operations teams with different skills working together to achieve an essential outcome out of port is quite rewarding for all involved.” 

In the coming months, the west channel ADCP cable will be upgraded and replaced with the new standard in line with a five-year preventative maintenance plan.  

Find out more about Port Authority's Hydrographic Survey team.

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