Development of a combined sea anchor and connector to be deployed by helicopter in order to prevent sea vessels in drift from grounding or colliding with offshore installations


he European Union is the largest maritime power in the world with 40% of its fleet. Almost 90% of its external and over 40% of its internal trade is transported by sea. The natural wealth of the ocean has an intrinsic value for the biodiversity of Europe as well as for the support of key functions for adjacent regions and populations. Oil spills have a catastrophic impact on the marine environment and incurs enormous costs and suffering in the aftermath. A large part of the oil spillage comes from drifting ships running aground or breaking up.

The project idea is to develop a novel and salvage tool by innovatively combining a light-weight sea anchor and connector. The system will be deployed by helicopter onto a ship in distress, thus reducing drift velocity and through that the chance of grounding or other potential disasters by providing extra time for Emergency Towing Vessels (ETVs). Further functionality is added by including a towing connection to the sea anchor, thereby providing arriving ETV with an easy-to-access pick-up buoy, which relieves them of the hazardous task of connecting to the ship in distress.
A major issue in the project is lowering the weight of the system to enable helicopter transport. This calls for studies in material science and will influence the dimensioning of the anchor, which will be based on simulations of multi-body behaviour at sea under the influence of wind and waves. At the ship and tanker traffic increases there is a reduction in ETV preparedness, leading to a potentially unsafe situation.

The ShipArrestor will aid in restoring and improving the oil spill prevention and salvage preparedness for ships up to 100,000 tonnes. In addition to the obvious environmental benefits of introducing the ShipArrestor, fisheries and tourist enterprises, of which a vast proportion is SMEs, will not have their livelihood ruined from oil pollution. The benefits for the project members are a valuable new tool in their production.

  • Status
  • Completed
  • Project Launch
  • 01 October 2008
  • Project completed
  • 30 November 2010
oil spill prevention shipping marine environment