As the mega ship era continues to unfold, the margin for error when large vessels approach and depart ports is nil. Improvements in port infrastructure, such as the widening and deepening of channels, along with upgrades to piers and cargo handling equipment is necessary for ports to capitalise on new economic opportunities. In addition, the collaboration of humans and technology is necessary to make vessel berthing as safe as possible.
In order to assess if ever-larger ships can safely navigate waterways, both ports and pilot organisations have turned to navigation simulators to verify and validate the most appropriate procedures. However, despite these best practices, pilots are also being challenged by some waterways where port infrastructure has not yet been adapted for the large vessels, so they must adapt as best they can until improvements are made.
NEW VESSELS, NEW TECHNOLOGY
Vessel sizes have increased exponentially due in part to the new Panama Canal. But even before it opened, the pressure was there for larger ships. In the 70s, we saw large tankers, VLCCs and ULCCs appeared at our sea buoys. Now we see new Panamax and Post-Panamax container vessels, Quantum cruise ships, large gas carriers and capsize bulk carriers requesting berths, tugs and pilots.