For centuries, sea life and ships were the only users of the sea but then the offshore industry started to explore and more recently, renewable energy systems like wind turbines have claimed extra space.

New North Sea route structure successfully implemented

These developments have led the Rijkswater- staat, the Dutch organisation responsible for the construction, management and mainte- nance of the main infrastructure facilities in the Netherlands, to initiate major changes in the overall route structure on the Dutch part of the North Sea to make it safer and more efficient. The new routing measures will also improve the accessibility of the Dutch mainports.

MARIN’s expertise concerning risk assess- ments, safety studies and traffic analysis was used in different phases of the project. Initially, MARIN performed several risk assess- ment studies for different concepts. Results were used to evaluate the impact different designs would have on the number of expected collisions, contacts with fixed objects or on the total number of sailing miles in the area, which has a knock-on effect on emissions for example. MARIN then gave advice about how to change or decrease some of the negative effects.

Yvonne Koldenhof

The new traffic routes came into effect at midnight on August 1st last year. This meant that a ship on the ‘old’ route could meet a ship on the ‘new’ route or vice versa. To make sure the transition period went smoothly, several extra safety measures were taken by the coastguard, together with the response units from the Rijkswaterstaat. To give an idea about the possible impact, MARIN was asked to determine the number of ships that would be in the area during the time of the changeover. By using AIS data, MARIN concluded that there would be 46 ships present at midnight. Additionally, using a traffic image based on AIS data from the

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‘old’ situation and the new route structure, MARIN found that there would be seven tempo- rary crossing points needing extra attention.

The changeover operation was evaluated and a small movie was made of ships sailing in the area. As expected, a few ships started on the old routes and changed to the new ones around midnight and overall, the oper- ation went very smoothly.

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