We sat down with Marco Pluijm, Chairman of ROPES and Bechtel’s Senior Ports Specialist, to learn more about the research and its importance.
What is ROPES?
ROPES (Research On the Passing Effects on Ships) is a research group based in the Netherlands. Since many ports were originally built, the size, speed and power of ships entering them has increased dramatically. The impact has meant a larger ‘wash’ created when ships move in and out of ports and more stress on the ropes mooring ships which has caused some ships coming free from their mooring. This has resulted in safety issues, environmental damage and financial loss. ROPES launched a three-year study into this issue in 2010 and we will be seeing the results next year.
How did Bechtel get involved?
I was already chairman of the group when I joined Bechtel two years ago and the company decided to get involved then and is now one of the sponsors.
Who else is involved in it?
There are 26 organizations involved in ROPES, from port authorities, including the Port of Rotterdam, Port of Amsterdam and Port of Antwerp, to terminal owners and operators to consultants, hardware suppliers and marine research institutes.
Why is it happening in the Netherlands?
While most of the research testing has been carried out in the Netherlands, some of it has also been carried out in the USA and in Belgium. It has been concentrated in North-West Europe largely due to the fact that the port authorities taking part are based in the Netherlands and Belgium. They recognized that they were all facing the same issues and decided to bundle their knowledge and do something about it. ROPES, however, is certainly addressing a global issue which is becoming increasingly common as ships get larger, as shown here in a recent example from Brazil.
Has any research ever been done before on this subject?
Not on this well-structured scale. Research has been done at various locations before but never ranging from small-scale testing via mathematical modeling to real-time scale modeling.
When will the results come out and what will they show?
The final results will come out in November 2013 and will provide new international guidelines for the planning and design of ports in relation to passing ships.
How will Bechtel benefit from this research?
We are always keen to ensure that we build safe, sustainable and innovative structures. Bechtel is the only engineering and construction company involved in the research and the results of the research will provide us with the latest state-of-the-art planning and design tools and guidelines, which will help us to support our customers by offering innovative solutions to the changing needs of the port industry.