MoorMaster at Helsinki

03 Mar 2017

MoorMaster system uses vacuum pads to hold the ship in its berth

MoorMaster system uses vacuum pads to hold the ship in its berth

The first automated docking system in the Nordic region has been installed in the new West Terminal 2 at Helsinki, Finland and it will be used to speed up the berthing of a new ferry.

The MoorMaster system was developed in New Zealand and uses
vacuum pads to hold the ship in its berth, removing the need to attach mooring
ropes for temporary berthing stops.

In addition to the installation of the MoorMaster system a
new terminal building has been erected and the facilities at this passenger
terminal upgraded in anticipation of the increased traffic resulting from the
introduction of a new ferry on the route between Tallin and Helsinki. The new
ferry, Megastar started operating on
this route recently.

MoorMaster has become popular in those ports where vessels
dock at the same pier several times a day. The Megastar will be arriving and departing six times a day, so the
€2.5 million investment in this equipment is justified.

As the ship arrives in Helsinki, the captain will start the
MoorMaster system from his control panel on board. Then, the MoorMaster units
at the pier will complete independent test runs and send a message to the ship
that they are ready to use. The MoorMaster units at the pier recognise the
arriving ship and switch on their customised settings and the captain will dock
the ship to the fenders giving the command to the MoorMaster units 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 with each having a holding power of 400kN.
The vacuum keeps the vessel attached to the pier, and there is no need to use
ropes. If the ship is not in the exact position the MoorMaster can move it
about 60 cms along the pier for final adjustment.

“Docking the ship to the pier will be about 5 minutes faster
compared to a traditional rope system,” said Antti Pulkinen, the Harbour
Master. “This allows the engines to 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

“At the port it is also a matter of work safety. When the
docking mostly happens automatically, I expect the number of work accidents
related to rope handling to decrease,” Pulkkinen estimated.

By Dag Pike

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