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Largest UK Port in Volumes, London Sees Smarter Navigational Technology for Busier River Thames

6th January 2022
New smarter technology installed for the navigation system at the Port of London, from where above at the UK capital is the iconic landmark of Tower Bridge seen in recent years with Svitzer Brunel passing under the raised drawbridge. The 58.5 tons bollard pull tug had assisted cruiseship Silver Wind moored alongside HMS Belfast at the Pool of London. The tug is one of a quartet of tractor tugs built in 2003 by Astilleros Zamakona, the same Spanish shipyard that built in 2010 Dublin Port's pair of Voith-Schneider propelled 53 bollard tugs Beaufort and Shackleton. New smarter technology installed for the navigation system at the Port of London, from where above at the UK capital is the iconic landmark of Tower Bridge seen in recent years with Svitzer Brunel passing under the raised drawbridge. The 58.5 tons bollard pull tug had assisted cruiseship Silver Wind moored alongside HMS Belfast at the Pool of London. The tug is one of a quartet of tractor tugs built in 2003 by Astilleros Zamakona, the same Spanish shipyard that built in 2010 Dublin Port's pair of Voith-Schneider propelled 53 bollard tugs Beaufort and Shackleton. Credit: Jehan Ashmore

The Port of London last year was confirmed as the largest port in the UK by volumes handled, after a break of over two decades.

The port on the River Thames and estuary has installed a state-of-the-art, air traffic control based communication technology system to assist the Port of London Authority (PLA). This is to improve navigational safety of visiting vessels on the tidal river Thames.

A modernisation programme, focused on maintaining safety on an increasingly busy river, has seen the installation of cutting-edge equipment at the PLA’s navigational control centres in Woolwich and Gravesend.

(Upriver of Gravesend at neighbouring Northfleet is where Afloat tracked Arklow Castle to be having departed Dublin Port on the final day of last year. At that stage the port of call was unknown. The ship has since crossed the North Sea again and is currently at Sluiskil in the Netherlands).

The new communication technology at the PLA, is used widely at airports around the world and was developed by Rohde & Schwarz, which has also been applied by one other major world port, Hong Kong. (See related, OOCL shipowner story at Felixstowe, Britain's biggest 'box-boat' port). 

It will help future proof the PLA’s ability to oversee the safety of vessels on the river, from Teddington to the North Sea.

Bob Baker, the PLA’s chief harbour master, said: “Applying this innovative communications system in a marine context provides us with the resilience and reliability we need to keep the river safe for all of its users.

Published in Ports & Shipping
Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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