RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
The Alaska Chadux Network is the only non-profit APC administrator in the United States with a Research & Development program. One of the key objectives of our APC program is risk reduction and the research & development projects focused on preventing a vessel grounding by providing more time to assist a vessel only further advances that objective. In addition to risk reduction, there are many challenges presented by the vast, rugged, and remote coastline in Alaska with respect to recovering spilled oil. ACN’s research & development program is also exploring more efficient oil recovery systems designed to work in Alaska’s harsh environments.
Large Vessel Sea Arrestor (LVSA)
Pioneering a large vessel arrest system that reduces a vessel’s drift rate by half and stabilize its motion to keep crew safe, cargo from shifting, and allow stable platform to effect repairs.
Contracted Seattle naval engineering firm Glosten, Inc to assist with design engineering for the "sea anchor" suitable for deployment from large ocean going vessels in foul weather.
The initial sea trials in June 2015 established that the project concept was viable. Using two 5,000 hp tugs to provide drag, the LSVA was deployed under loads exceeding 107 metric tons of bollard pull. Post-test inspection confirmed all tested components showed no wear or damage. The project team is now preparing to launch the system from a support vessel to a 300-meter container ship in a state of free drift to further evaluate the efficacy of the system.
EMERGENCY VESSEL ATTACHMENT & TOWING SYSTEM (EVATS™)
A component of the sea arrestor system is the EVATS™, which is also considered a standalone system that can be used independently to improve the safety, reliability, and versatility of securing a towline between a disabled vessel and a towing vessel. It is designed for rapid deployment and recoverability in heavy weather and low-light conditions, establishing a safer distance between the disabled vessel and the responding towing vessel. The EVATS™ is designed to quickly and safely to place a disabled vessel in tow under arduous weather conditions to prevent an oil spill incident. Its innovative towing system is designed to keep equal tension on the towing bridle and be easily delivered by boat or helicopter and hook up system during inclement weather.
The system was pull tested in May 2017 of up to 400 metric tons (MT), confirming its minimum breaking strength is 300 MT. The total dry weight of the system is ~2,000 lbs., which allows for delivery by Coast Guard HH-60 Jayhawk, or another helicopter with equal or greater payload capacity.
In March of 2019, the project team conducted a successful sea trial of the system in Norway to exercise and demonstrate the enhanced capabilities of the EVATS™ system working with the Norwegian Coast Guard and Norwegian Coastal Authority. To view a short video of the exercise, visit Samson's website HERE.
Both the LSVA and the EVATS™ are attracting international attention due to its promising capabilities in rendering assistance to a disable vessel that poses risk to its crew and the environment.
Arctic Vessel Monitoring Geofencing/Alert Awareness Project
In 2018, the Network received a research and development grant from the Arctic Domain Awareness Center (ADAC), University of Alaska at Anchorage.
The project grant awarded to the Network seek to advance Arctic Maritime Domain Awareness by developing enhanced protocols and software for the Automatic Identification System (AIS) technology. By providing improved “watch-dog” alerts to the Coast Guard, other agencies and maritime stakeholders the project’s overall objective will enhance maritime security and safety, environmental protection, and vessel regulatory compliance in U.S. Arctic waters.
The project will aid Coast Guard decision-makers to rapidly distill, analyze, and prioritize potential threats to allocate scare resources, energies, and partnerships using triggered “watch-dog” alarms along with geofencing technology based on specified criteria and parameters.
As an outcome of the project, the research team (co-lead by the Network) was able to develop in 2019 AIS geofencing around a moving vessel, referred to as “dynamic geofencing.” This is a significant enhancement to geofencing technology as all previous geofencing software was center on stationary points of reference. A leading use of this new tool is to monitor tanker lightering operations in Western Alaska; thereby, gaining greater maritime domain awareness of higher risks events that could potentially lead to an oil spill incident.
OTTER SERIES RECOVERY SYSTEM
ACN provided a grant to Pacific Petroleum Recovery Alaska (PPR Alaska) to attend the Clean Gulf Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana and display the high-efficiency Otter Skimmer system. PPR Alaska continues to refine and develop this oil recovery skimming system by conducting tests in Alaska and the federal testing facility in New Jersey.
To learn more, please visit their website www.ppralaska.com