International Dredging Review

International Dredging Review

At the Corps of Engineers Engineer Research and Development Center (EDRC) in Vicksburg Mississippi an exact computer replica of the Charleston Harbor Post 45 Deepening Project is conducting a ship simulation to determine which areas of the channel should be widened and which areas can be maintained. Holly Carpenter Corps project manager said the work is being done along with the Charleston Harbor pilots local tug captains and docking pilots and could provide cost savings or decreased construction times if parts of the widening planning in the feasibility study are deemed not needed.

The simulation gives the harbor pilots the opportunity to test a channel before it is built and gives engineers the chance to evaluate the safety of their waterway designs.The ship simulation platform includes three bridges where the harbor pilot commands from set up for real-time ship maneuvering and specifically designed for harbor pilots to evaluate navigation channel designs modifications and safety issues. 

During the simulation harbor pilots ship safetly through various scenari. Weather conditions such as high winds and choppy seas torrential down-pours or sunny and calm are all tested. Another scenario is ships arriving and leaving at the same time creating “traffic” situations which they can encounter on any given day in the Charleston Harbor. The ship simulation was completed in five weeks and during this time the Charleston Harbor Pilots local tug captains and docking pilots took turns spending a week at ERDC to test the simulations.

The simulations take place in rooms with 11 plasma displays shown from the bridge perspective. There are other displays that show rudder position engine speed absolute ship speed lateral ship velocity for bow and stern wind magnitude and direction and lapsed time of test exercise. The virtual ship model can calculate ship response to the different conditions including changed topography channel depth and width effects and ship motion.

The ship simulation can also help optimize the channel size the Corps said and validates the channel design before implementation. Once the full analysis is complete reducing the channel and turning basin widenings could reduce dredging and project time and costs.