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Testing the icy waters of winter shipping

A group of researchers collaborating with maritime authorities, universities and international marine research institutes have developed models and methods to improve our understanding of the potential risk of ice load on ships.

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The EU-funded 'Increasing the safety of icebound shipping' (Safeice) project was established to develop a scientific basis for ice class rules (ship hull strength) and for placing requirements on ice classes. The overall aim was to decrease the risk associated with winter navigation. The project researchers used the Baltic Sea, Canadian waters, and the Sea of Okhotsk as validation areas for ice load predictions. A database of earlier information on ice loads and ice pressures was compiled, with ice-load data sets being used to validate deterministic ice load models. The researchers developed and validated probability-based methods in ice load evaluation and progressed in other objectives to decrease material and environmental risks to shipping in ice-covered waters. They worked on developing ship–ice interaction models and stochastic models to study design loads on ship hulls, and created a framework for the development of design codes and regulations for plastic design basis for icebound ships. Simulations conducted by Safeice project members indicated that these are useful methods of predicting maximum ice loads on a ship, at least with regard to the bow of the ship in the short term. Project members also succeeded in developing a numerical procedure for time–domain stochastic simulations of ship motion in broken ice, and ice loading of the hull. The consortium provided major contributions in a number of areas, contributing the most comprehensive picture, to date, of the ice load distributions on ship hulls. Ongoing advances in related research and international collaboration, such as that achieved by Safeice, promise to contribute to improved safety at sea.

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