The Nanaimo Port Authority is sailing through uncharted waters with a new navigation system development program.
The program is part of the port authority’s drive to build future business, which includes plans to expand its deep sea short shipping facilities at Duke Point to take advantage of future potential business from B.C.’s developing liquefied natural gas industry.
The expansion at Duke Point, estimated to cost upwards of $60 million to build a second shipping berth and other shipping and cargo-handling facilities, might not become a reality until 2020. In the meantime, the Marine Domain Awareness Project software and equipment development for a proposed B.C. Electronic Marine Highway to handle LNG tanker traffic on the B.C. Coast, is underway at the port authority’s facilities in Nanaimo.
Bernie Dumas, Nanaimo Port Authority president and CEO, announced the project at the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce luncheon Thursday.
The port authority has partnered with North Vancouver-based Xanatos Marine to develop and test the system in Nanaimo.
“Basically the system is an air traffic control system for B.C. ships,” Dumas said.
The system layers data from radar, visual sighting, weather, currents, ship transponders and other information to create a digital representation of shipping lanes and traffic to shipping traffic advisors and crews aboard the vessels themselves. The overall effect is to allow ships’ operators to effectively “see” beyond the horizon or around geographic features, such as islands, to track other ships in real time and avoid potential collisions. The data is also recorded and has already been used to review the cause of a collision in Vancouver.
“They had an accident where a tug sank because a barge ran over it,” Dumas said. “We replayed it for them and showed the cause and how it happened as well as the response time.”
The system, which is an adaptation of one created in Indonesia, could be extended to other major B.C. shipping ports.
The idea is to record and sell information gathered to interested parties, such as Transport Canada, B.C. Ferries, the coast guard and marine-related companies.
“We’re hoping to be able to get into a new type of business and selling services to the marine industry,” Dumas said.