ITF Stands Firm in Panama Canal Debate

Panama Canal Simulation

By MarEx 2016-05-06 20:37:43

The ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) has reiterating its case regarding the possible risks to safety posed by the Panama Canal’s new locks despite counter claims made by the Panama Canal Authority (PCA).

The PCA denied the claims made in a study commissioned by the ITF. The study was carried out by Brazil’s Fundação Homem do Mar (FHM) and identified potential critical problems with the canal’s new locks.

ITF general secretary Steve Cotton said: “The ITF, like our Panamanian member unions, has repeatedly offered the PCA our co-operation to ensure that the canal is safe for those working on it and those passing through it. In that same spirit we made the FHM study freely available to the PCA and once again asked for a positive engagement with them.”

The ITF offers the following responses to the PCA:

The PCA seeks to suggest that the study is not based on a mathematical model. In fact FHM’s simulators meet the requirements of Class A document – Standard for Certification of Maritime Simulators System No. 2.14 – January 2011 of DNV and can work completely integrated. We also took into account an article on the “Simulation in the training for pilots and tugboat captains in the expanded Panama Canal” presented at the MARSIM2015 Conference in Newcastle University, from September 8 to 11, 2015, by Captain Francisco Tejada from the Panama Canal Authority. FHM possess the same type of simulator as SIDMAR. We add that our engineering navigation simulator has the latest version to this system which our provider owns.

The PCA has said that rather than two tugs being used in the locks up to four may be used. If that is so then such use should be analyzed via simulation and mathematical modelling, which will allow a better understanding of maneuverability and ships’ behavior in several situations.

The PCA has also questioned the credibility of and equipment used by the Fundacoa Homem Do Mar. Our foundation has existed for more than 10 years and works in partnership with both private and public organizations, foundations and enterprises to elaborate and develop projects associated with the waterway sector. FHM possesses engineering and navigation simulators that fulfil the requirements of the Class A document – Standard for Certification of Maritime Simulators System No. 2.14 – January 2011 of DNV.

FHM possesses programs that enable it to mathematically model any ship type and to conduct an analysis of the maneuverability through simulations carried out using an integrated approach, using theory, empirical data from an extensive database of hydrodynamics and aerodynamic characteristics.

FHM possesses an expert staff composed of captains, merchant marine officers and naval architects.

FHM has already carried out projects in major ports, such as Santos, Rio de Janeiro, Tubarão, Vitória, Ponta da Madeira, Puerto La Plata and others. These include one carried out for the world’s largest ore carrier, which was undertaken before its planned VLOC vessel was even built and which used mathematical models of the vessel to model its use of the ports of Ponta da Madeira, Maranhão and also Tubarão and Vitória, Espírito Santo. Our analysis provided a risk analysis of the maneuveres, training for the ship’s masters and the familiarization of pilots in maneuvering this type of vessel.

Furthermore, FHM has also carried out other important maneuverability analyses in the entry of premier transport LNG vessels in ports of Pecém, Ceará and in terminals (constructed especially for this type of vessel), in Baia de todos os Santos, Bahia, and in Baia de Guanabara, Rio de Janeiro. This study included making a risk analysis of the maneuveres and the training of the vessels’ captains, as well as the familiarization of regional pilots with maneuvering LNG vessels.

In relation to mathematical models, we acknowledge the great investment made by SIDMAR in its navigation simulators and in the quality of its mathematical modelling. The engineering navigation simulators which SIDMAR possesses are the same type that FHM has used for more than 10 years. In all the maneuverability studies FHM has used the latest version of the engineering navigation simulators using exceptional mathematical modelling.

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.