Marine technology: Scenario-based risk management for polar waters

An image representing marine technology.

Aalto University’s Marine Technology Research Group outline a new project to develop risk-based guidelines which holistically consider the impact of risks in ice infested waters.

Aalto University is a Finnish multidisciplinary university founded in 2010 by merging three Finnish universities in Economics, Art and Design, and Technology. The formerly independent Helsinki University of Technology continues as four Aalto Schools of Technology. Aalto University’s Marine Technology Research Group is responsible for practicing scientific research and providing education at the highest level in Finland with regard to ship and marine technology.

Here, we focus our research on the development and application of first principles of solid and fluid mechanics in marine technology. The complex applications require a holistic, risk-based design with out-of-box solutions.

Currently, the department’s research on ship and maritime systems is focused on developing concepts, methods and frameworks for creating safe and sustainable technological and socio-technological systems for the marine environment. This serves society by increasing our understanding of how safe marine solutions are created and maintained, and how maritime risks can be managed effectively.

The Arctic environment

In the near future, new approaches related to increasing automation will change both ship design and maritime system level design and operations. The research group on Arctic marine technology within the department is thus working towards improving the safety of vessels navigating in harsh sea ice environments, combining expertise in mechanical engineering, naval architecture, safety engineering and risk management. Our multidisciplinary approach aims to create new knowledge on the interactions of sea ice with vessels in both the ship design and operational contexts.

The group owns the Aalto Ice Tank, a 40×40m water basin equipped to produce sea ice in model scale. The facility is unique because of its dimensions and, in particular, its large width.

The background and aims of the project (2019-21), funded by the LR Foundation

The growing interest in Arctic and Antarctic shipping activities due to the decreasing ice cover will also increase the risks of accidents on these waters. The design of ships for such environments has traditionally been based on practical experience without a clear link to the physics of the ship-ice interaction. The rules are, however, now moving towards a goal-based approach, which requires an in-depth knowledge of all the various element important for design.

While risk-based ship design (RBSD) is widely applied in areas such as the design of passengers ships, when it comes to RBSD for Arctic operations the challenges are exacerbated by the demanding ice environment, together with the numerous possible ship-ice contact scenarios. This makes it difficult to properly define what is required, especially in proper probabilistic terms.

The main challenges are still related to how to describe the ship-ice interaction parameters, such as ship-ice contact characteristics, pressure distributions, and load levels in all the various ice conditions. In addition, the possible environmental consequences of accidents requires further research. Finally, human factors also need to be incorporated in risk analysis techniques.

Risk-based guidelines

The project aims to provide risk-based guidelines which holistically consider the impact of risks in ice infested waters. For this reason, expertise in design methods, the ice environment, ship-ice interaction, and structural damage and consequence analysis is necessary and should be combined.

The consortium consists of five universities with a track record from the LRF-funded CEARCTIC project:

• Aalto University, Finland (AALTO)
• Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada (MEMORIAL)
• Hamburg University of technology, Germany (TUHH)
• The Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
• University of Helsinki, Finland (UH)

The northern sea route

Demands for shipping in Arctic regions is increasing not only because of the increased volumes of transported gas and oil from Russia but also the use of the Northern Sea Route. When shipping moves more towards the North and South Poles, it brings with it an increased interest in the safety and sustainability of polar shipping, as well as in floating offshore installations operating in geographical areas with ice-infested waters.
Existing rules and regulations for the design of ice-going ships are either deterministic or address risks in a way that is only partly based on performance. There is thus a need to develop goal-based regulations for ship safety and sea traffic without interferences in regions with ice infested waters.

The scope of this project is to develop guidelines for the safe and sustainable design of ice classed fleets by combining practical knowledge, state of the art engineering methods, and fundamental academic developments pertaining to the definition of safety level at concept design. To achieve the latter, it is proposed to qualify risks for Arctic operations by defining hazard scenarios and quantitatively estimating the impact (probability and consequences) of those at concept ship design stage.

Recommended practice will be developed considering all key elements of polar ship design, namely:
• Definition of ice conditions
• Ship-ice contact characterisation
• Limit state analysis
• Holistic risk/reward analysis for polar navigation in association with key international industry stakeholders

Fundamental research will involve the development of theoretical models and state of the art simulations and their validation by model tests and full-scale measurements. LRF is the most appropriate funder of this work because:

• The research will highly impact International Maritime Organization (IMO) regulations and class rules
• The programme will support the Foundation’s strategy to promote public/maritime safety and education by clustering high profile regulatory, industrial, and research institutes
This project will develop state of the art guidelines for safe maritime operations in the Polar region. It will significantly benefit society in line with the Foundation’s charitable activities in terms of impact on maritime safety standards, the overall promotion of public safety, and support to education.

Currently, accidental limit states are not properly considered by the IMO Polar Code or the IACS unified requirements for Polar ships. The work proposed will practically impact the risk management of polar shipping operations and will shape the face of future maritime safety standards by assisting the IMO, government agencies, and classification societies to develop new rules and regulations, as well as by training engineers to design safe ships for Polar waters.

Profound benefits

These activities will provide profound benefits in terms of promoting Polar shipping safety and sustainability standards. They will also assist with the implementation of meaningful policy measures that, to date, have been slow to evolve due to a lack of qualified personnel and sound scientific bases for risk based decision making.

For example, the assessment of accidental events in ice infested waters by first principles risk-based methods will help to develop state of the art techniques and to mitigate risks. This will lead to goal-based regulations that will support the safety of life in Polar seas and will control environmental risks via the avoidance of the devastating effects of hydrocarbon spills. The use of first principles risk based methods will also help with the formulation of accident data bases. Finally, the project will promote industry knowhow, education, and scientific impact.

Professor Pentti Kujala
Marine Technology Research Group
Aalto University
+358 400 878145
pentti.kujala@aalto.fi
Tweet @AaltoUniversity
https://people.aalto.fi/pentti.kujala

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