OMC International’s contract with Arrium Limited for a DUKC system to enhance the safety and efficiency of capesize ships travelling down the Spencer Gulf showcases OMC’s expansion into new markets, Executive Director Dr. Terry O’Brien OAM announced today.
“This is a real turning point for OMC because the Arrium Whyalla DUKC real-time software navigation system is not only our first South Australian installation but also, more significantly, this is the first time that DUKC is being used for a transhipment operation,” Dr. O’Brien said. “These are exciting times for our maritime engineering company whose priority is always safety first.”
DUKC innovator Dr. O’Brien, who is the recognised world expert in under keel clearance management, said work was underway on this new installation for Arrium (an Australian iron ore exporter and steel maker previously known as OneSteel) and it was expected to be commissioned by June this year.
“DUKC technology will help enhance Arrium’s operations by safely maximising the drafts of ocean-going iron ore carriers above the existing limit of 18.2m down the Spencer Gulf from a transhipment point,” Dr. O’Brien said.
As part of Arrium’s operations, hematite is being mined from the Middleback ranges of South Australia and transported to the Port of Whyalla. From there, smaller transhipment vessels take the ore out to the larger ships which are moored about 15km offshore in the Spencer Gulf because the Whyalla port is too shallow to load capesize ships.
“With regards to the engineering of the DUKC system, transhipment operations bring unique challenges because the loading cycle is longer,” Dr. O’Brien said. “The decision timeframe is different because the barge cycle is around eight hours and it takes 15-18 barges to load a capesize ship.
“Aside from the additional risk management that DUKC brings to the operations, a key benefit is to reduce freight rates by maximising the tonnage on every ship.”
OMC’s senior engineer and WA Manager Brendan Curtis, who is project managing this DUKC installation, said Melbourne-based OMC was commissioned to undertake a study into the UKC requirements for capesize ships transiting the Spencer Gulf back in 2005. This study was revised in 2006 with additional tide data and updated bathymetry. The study found that a DUKC system could increase the sailing drafts and available windows of the capesize ship.
OMC will host its latest Generation web-based DUKC Series 5 system for Arrium, and Mr. Curtis said Series 5 had the added benefit of also simplifying some of the technical challenges for Arrium by allowing OMC to manage the IT infrastructure. All DUKC products are developed and supported entirely in-house 24/7 by the OMC team.
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