PIANC : Permanent International Association of Navigation Congresses.

What’s this?

A new Day, another acronym! The title gives the impression that PIANC is a just another navigation forum but it is actually a highly specialised group of experts that looks at channels and how ships behave within them. The vast majority of PIANC’s work is undertaken by the boffins who have produced wonderfully complex formulae to cover the infinite variety of vertical and horizontal parameters with respect to block coefficients of ships, speeds and under keel clearances etc. Obviously this work is of great relevance to pilots and pilotage so fortunately, London pilot and Section Committee member, Don Cockrill has been made a full member of the “horizontal” working group, as part of his UKMPA IMPA portfolio. The following is edited from Don’s report and the minutes from the meeting. JCB

Working Group 49 meeting, October 2007

The working group is undertaking a revision of the WG 30 report published in 1997 which is basically the industry design bible for fairway and channel design. WG 30 had input from IMPA via Tony Boddy (retired Trinity House, London North).

One new aspect has been the introduction of risk assessment methodology and one member has produced a paper on risk and published studies that presented accident frequency and concepts of acceptable risk levels and all were agreed that this needs to be incorporated into the report.

IALA have been invited to join the group since they have expertise in information systems on positioning and navigation but it was decided that WG49 should not consider the design and implementation of fairway navigation aids because it was such a large and complex subject and a separate sub group may be formed to examine this aspect. However it was agreed that the relationship between navaids and fairway dimensions must be mentioned in the WG49 final report with reference to relevant IALA guidelines.

It was also agreed that the WG had a professional responsibility to ensure that any guidance given would result in safe channel dimensions, which, consequently, would be likely to be conservative (greater than the actual minimum required). It was also noted that in most cases, the existing WG30 guidance provides good conceptual design estimates of channel width requirements when the method is applied correctly but it needed to be made clear that the guidelines only provide a preliminary indication of fairway dimensions and that a detailed design process is required to optimise the fairway for the specific site/purpose. Don Cockrill raised the issue of skill levels of the mariners handling vessels in confined waterways because whilst pilots were experienced in such navigation, narrow channel navigation was outside the experience of the non piloted “bridge team”. It was therefore agreed that there may be some merit to including some parameters related to the skill of the vessel operator in the guidance. Other factors, including the use of escort towage may result in a modification of the existing method using the ship’s beam. Practical tests involving those experienced in narrow channel navigation should also be used to test the concepts.

Don’s report:-

The involvement of a pilot in this project is essential in that the WG is made up entirely of erudite hydrodynamic scientists, designers and engineers who by their own admission have very limited knowledge and understanding of the realities and practical aspects of ship navigation, handling and pilotage which are all directly impacted by the results of their work. IMPA therefore had great impact in the document by introducing the concept of the human factors aspect of shipping and pilotage in its many forms and a reference to the need for channel design to take into account the skill of the ship navigator in confined waters etc.

I have a short work list of specialist paragraphs to write and or contribute to on a variety of subjects. Any references, views, opinions, local experiences or other relevant input you may have which would possibly be of assistance to me in compiling concise and useful contributions to the project would be most gratefully received, preferably by the end of December.

Subjects I am specifically covering are:

1. The size and location of Pilot Boarding areas.

2. Helicopter pilot boarding operations with particular regard to ship manoeuvring space required.

3. Escort towage – how the use of escort tugs may impact on the design width of a channel.

4. Manoeuvring areas – Impact on required size of area in relation to tug use.

5. Tug operational rules and how they may affect channel design widths.

6. VTS & VTMS -what impact they may have on the design width and depth of a channel.

7. Inboard vessel navigation systems – descriptions, myths and realities!

Note that each item is generally only allocated space for a few hundred words maximum so I am only required to write broad outline descriptions on each with references for detailed information where appropriate.

See page 13

The next meeting is to be held at MARIN, Wargeningen in April 2008.

Don Cockrill. Email: don.cockrill@tesco.net

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