Technology could stop another Rena
Mon, 18 Jun 2012 6:28p.m.
By Michael Morrah
There are calls for navigational technology at New Zealand ports to be improved to reduce the risk of another environmental disaster like the Rena.
Maritime New Zealand is still deciding whether shipping rules need to be updated, but one Auckland-based company says it has a device that could help.
There are dozens of physical navigation aids for boaties coming into Auckland Harbour - for example, channel markers and buoys.
But Auckland company Vesper Marine says virtual marker technology could be used as well.
Virtual marks are set up on a desktop computer and identify anything from buoys to invisible dangers like underwater reefs and sand bars.
That information is then beamed out to vessels and an alarm sounds if they're on a collision course.
“Anybody coming into range of that will see that on their chart plotter or their display system that they have on their boats,” says Mike Ogle of Vesper Marine.
The technology is already being used in Doubtful Sound, where the position of a shallow reef is transmitted to the 80 cruise ships that visit the area every year.
The virtual marker is useful, as the actual buoy marking the reef kept being ripped off by the seven-metre swells.
“This is a lot easier to deploy than a physical buoy,” says Mr Ogle. “It's less expensive to deploy and also flexible, as you can move one of these marks from a desktop.”
The company says it's hard to say whether virtual markers would have prevented the Rena disaster, but believes it may have helped.
The technology could be used to mark the other reefs off Motiti Island on the way into Tauranga Harbour.
Maritime New Zealand is still investigating the Rena disaster, and because of this no one would talk to 3 News.
It says it's still assessing which technology would work best and its still trying to work out the exact nature of the problem with shipping in New Zealand.
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20/06/2012 10:22:21 a.m.
The technology is there now and should be used. Every ship within NZ waters should have a GPS tracker on it. I include ocean going yachts and trawlers. That way their location and direction would be known at all times. Computer generated alarms could then be set up and search and rescues would be easier. Screen based maps now show every known danger and alarms can be set.
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