Multi use of the North Sea can cause major problems
The Hague, 20 February 2022
In the wake of Corrie and Dudley, the Netherlands was hit by storm Eunice last Friday. Code red for the coastal provinces. And this time, the consequences of this storm were not just visible on land.
During storm Corrie, everything ended relatively well, but it could have been much worse. What happened on 31 January? A brief reconstruction. The Julietta D was moored off the coast of IJmuiden. Probably due to storm Corrie, the ship’s anchor failed to hold, and she collided with another ship. The Julietta D suffered a hole in the engine room and started to take on water. The Coastguard and the Belgian navy rescued the 18 crewmembers with SAR (search and rescue) helicopters. However, the danger was not past. The Julietta D proceeded to drift in a south-easterly direction, passing through the Hollandse Kust Zuid wind farm that was currently under construction. There it hit the base of the Offshore High Voltage Station Beta (OVSH Beta). That’s a kind of transformer house at sea that controls the electricity production of the wind farm. For several minutes, the ship remained jammed to the base, then turned and drifted towards the next obstacle: a manned production platform Q13a-A. The Coastguard removed the three crewmembers from the platform by helicopter as a precaution and brought them to safety. Due to the northerly current, the ship missed the platform and eventually they managed to tow the Julietta D towards Rotterdam. The damage to the base of the transformer platform in the wind park is yet to be assessed. The fact that gas platform Q13 avoided a possible disaster is clear.
There are few ship accidents in the North Sea, but such accidents are becoming more likely. The North Sea is a large open waterway, which not only accommodates shipping but also other functions like oil and gas extraction, wind farms, shellfish farming areas, military exercise zones, etc. The combination of all these functions generates risks. Drifting ships are one of the possible risks. There can be various reasons, which can also be temporary. However, the increasing multi use of the North Sea means a growing risk of accidents, and their possible impact. Incidentally, a distinction can be made here between the impact on climate and economic impact and injury. For more information, please see Risk Analysis North Sea 2018 Arcadis.
On Thursday, we heard the news that the Sea Viking, a ship that transports cars, had been blown off course in the North Sea Canal, and was aground on the slope of the Kanaaldijk in IJmuiden. By dropping anchor, the skipper was able to prevent a worse scenario and a tugboat managed to pull the Sea Viking free.
On Wednesday during storm Dudley, the SCH 123 had already been towed in and the other boats from the fishing fleet had also returned earlier. Unfortunately, with less catch than normal. Again, due to the storm.
Campus@Sea is an initiative of the Municipality of The Hague and the province of South Holland. Through the test sites in the port of Scheveningen and at sea, in partnership with North Sea Farmers, we offer an inspiring, mission-driven and nature-inclusive learning, working and innovation environment to promote multi use of the sea.
Through meetings, experiments and demonstrations, innovations relating to the themes food, energy, safety & security, and sport are developed for use at sea, in the port and along the coast. Campus@Sea develops this network of impact makers (community) and the home base (campus) for this community.
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