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Maersk installs sensors to avoid parametric rolling at sea

When major container vessels start ’rolling’ at sea, it may result in large numbers of boxes being dropped in the water. Maersk is now installing sensors aboard several of its ships in order to detect these events in due time.

Photo: PR / Maersk

Several of the large container carriers such as Maersk and ONE have dropped hundreds of boxes at sea in the last couple of years, with tough weather conditions and ships ’rolling’ in the waves considered primary reasons.

In an attempt to prevent vessels from ’rolling’ uncontrollably at sea, Maersk is testing the use of sensors that are able to detect ’rolling’ movements before these escalate to a problematic extent.

As a result, sensors developed by Danish company Kjærulf Pedersen will be installed on several Maersk ships.

In case of ’rolling’ movements, three sensors will send a message to the crew, which can then change the course of the ship.

The phenomena, called parametric rolling, happens when uncontrollable movements reinforce one another. This can lead to the ship tilting by up to 46 degrees in short time, sometimes resulting in containers falling into the ocean.

”Parametric rolling may arise in as little as eight wave cycles, each with a duration of four-five seconds, and the tilt may be doubled from roll to roll. It’s impossible to detect [for the crew, -ed.] because it happens very fast, and the situation is very dangerous for everyone,” says Ole Egelykke-Milandt, sales engineer and project manager at Kjærulf Pedersen.

In a comment on the initiative, Maersk writes:

”Parametric rolling is a challenge that we take very seriously for both safety and environmental reasons. Among many other initiatives, we have done a test with sensors aboard four vessels, and we now wish to implement this on a larger number of ships, allowing us to collect more data, as data is crucial for understanding the challenge of parametric rolling. However, the project is at such an early phase that we still can’t draw any conclusions.”

English edit: Kristoffer Grønbæk

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