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The West Terminal 2 will have the first automated ship docking system in the Nordic region

Finland will be the first country in the Nordic region to use MoorMaster on large vessels, at the West Harbour in Helsinki. Developed in New Zealand, MoorMaster is an automated ship docking system which is based on using vacuum. The name of the automatic docking system is MoorMaster.

The system has become very popular particularly in those ports where vessels dock at the same pier several times a day. Tallink will be arriving to and departing from pier no. 7 at West Terminal 2 six times a day, so investment in this equipment (approx. 2.5 M€) is justified.

A simplified overview

As the ship arrives in Helsinki, the captain will start the MoorMaster system from his control panel when the ship is near Katajaluoto. Then, the MoorMaster units at the pier will complete independent test runs and send a message to the ship: system ready to use. It’s approximately 10 minutes from Katajaluoto to the pier. The MoorMaster units at the pier recognise the arriving ship and switch on their customised settings. The captain will dock the ship to the fenders (cushioning pads), and gives the command to the MoorMaster units, which are sort of like suction cups, to attach to the side of the ship. In the case of the Megastar, all six MoorMaster units will be attached to the side of the ship. Each MoorMaster unit has a holding power of 400 kN. Vacuum helps the system to keep the vessel attached to the pier, and there is no need to use ropes at all.

From the moment the docking command is given, it takes about 20 – 25 seconds for the ship to be attached to the pier,

briefed Antti Pulkkinen, the Harbour Master.
In case the ship is not exactly in the right position, the captain can use MoorMaster to move the ship along the pier, up to about 60 cm.

In case of difficult conditions, such as strong winds or ice accumulated on the side of the hull, the Megastar will still have the option to use ropes and the mooring bollards on the pier. The MoorMaster system can also be used manually from the pier, from the terminal at the port. The equipment is monitored all the way in New Zealand, Pulkkinen described the back-up systems.

Saving everything

Docking the ship to the pier will be about 5 minutes faster compared to a traditional rope system, so the Megastar’s engines can be turned off earlier, and started later while at the port. This saves fuel, which reduces costs as well as environmental stress. On a yearly basis, the savings are considerable. The Megastar will only spend an hour at a time at the port, so the five minutes saved help a lot to stick to the planned schedules.

At the port it’s also a matter of work safety. When the docking mostly happens automatically, I’d expect the number of work accidents related to rope handling to decrease, Pulkkinen estimated.
The mooring system is ready for use already. The Megastar will officially use the new system for the first time on Sunday, 29.01.2017.

We are now collecting user experiences regarding MoorMaster, but I believe this will be the future in Helsinki, and generally in ports around the world. The system is ready for use already, so we’re just waiting for the Megastar to arrive, Antti welcomed the Shuttle to Helsinki.

Situated next to the pier, the construction of West Terminal 2 is making good progress. At the other end of the pier, workers are putting finishing touches on the car ramp, which will make it possible to load and unload passenger cars from the Megastar’s upper car deck.

Interview with Antti Pulkkinen, the Harbour Master at Helsingin Satamat Oy

Gallery ( 5 photos)

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