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06 October 2011

WMO Hosts Workshop on Extreme Seas

WMO is hosting a workshop with representatives of the International Maritime Organization, classification societies, shipyards, marine designers and ship operators on Extreme Seas: Improving Wave Observations, Maritime Safety and Ship Design.

The aim is to enhance safety of the merchant fleet in extreme seas and meet future challenges – especially given that the anticipated shrinking of the Arctic ice will lead to an increase in shipping and oil and gas exploration in unpredictable northern waters which were previously closed to navigation.

“WMO has a long standing culture of cooperation with the international merchant fleet. Presently, about 4000 carriers provide platforms for observation of various types around the globe. Needless to say, these observations contribute in part to the safe and economic operations of all marine activities,” said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud in a message to the workshop.

“Safety for shipping starts at the drawing table of the ship designers where structural matters are considered to make the new ships resilient to the environmental impacts. Weather and sea state observations from the open seas are part of the information bedrock of better ship design,” he said

The conference 4-6 October is meant to promote the harmonization of ocean observation practices with the needs of modern applications of these data in marine design and risk based management of ship operations.

Provision of ocean wave observations is central in this perspective, and particular attention will be paid to the occurrence and recording of extreme events and their calculated impacts on ships. Attention will be given to container vessels, passenger ships, and product and chemical tankers.

Historically, marine designers have relied on a WMO wave database consisting of mariners’ visual estimates of wave parameters. There is general consensus that this database needs improving – especially to meet the needs of ship accident investigations. Several studies indicate that one third of major ship accidents are caused by bad weather conditions. Consequently, the accuracy of wave observations is crucial.

Objectives of the conference include:

The application of available up to date met-ocean data in ship design and operations;
Methodologies for ship design in extreme and abnormal conditions with particular focus on acceptable safely levels;
Rules and regulations for marine structure design;
Consensus or methodology for extreme wave warnings.

Expected outcomes are:

Enhanced involvement of the world merchant fleet in met-ocean programmes;
Consensus on future wave data definitions and database management;
A special focus on extreme conditions and risk based management requirements;
Highlights of disaster risk reduction in the marine communities.

The workshop is co-sponsored by the International Maritime Organization and risk management service provider Det Norske Veritas (DNV) and is part of the “Extreme Seas” project funded by the European Union.