Sailing through waters with nothing but the expanse of blue oceans all around you may sound like a dream. But without the right knowledge, safety measures and navigational aids (navaids) in place, the seas are a dangerous place to be. Even in smaller waterways, there is little room for mistakes and navigation problems can lead to dire consequences.

As times have changed, so has marine navigation. Although primarily intended to improve safety at sea and to help ship officers find and safely navigate through a preferred channel, aids to navigation (AtoN) now also support commerce and globalisation.

Our latest projects

At Hydrosphere, we have undertaken several exciting navaid projects over the past few months. We recently supplied a Mobilis JET 9000 navigation buoy — one of the largest buoys in the JET series — to mark an outfall at the Lune Deep which provides the approach channel to the busy Port of Heysham, Fleetwood Port and Port of Lancaster. The approaches to these ports are notoriously tricky with extensive sand and mudflats, fast-moving tides and a narrow, extremely deep channel. Previous buoys at this location on single-point moorings had often moved into the deep part of the channel, meaning the chain was always taut and the buoy and mooring were prone to damage. To solve this problem, a full mooring study was carried out, and this concluded a two-part mooring would be better suited to ensure the buoy could be placed right at the edge of the channel to safely mark the utility outfall and safe line of passage through the Lune Deep Channel.

Outside of ports and harbours, we have also been involved in other ongoing navigational aids projects. Since March 2020, we have been working with Nemo Link — a joint venture between the British National Grid and Belgian company Elia to rent out several Mobilis JET 9000 and JET 2500 navigation buoys deployed in UK waters. These buoys were used to mark out certain points of the power cables between the UK and Belgium. The special mark buoys were fitted with equipment to provide satellite monitoring capabilities to determine the buoys’ position at all times for the client. During this rental project, we experienced a buoy being mistakenly moved out of position. However, thanks to the integrated Sabik M850 light with Lightguard Monitoring position alerts, we were able to identify and rectify the problem in conjunction with the client, and the buoy was safely and promptly returned to its correct designated position where it remains to date.

We have also been heavily involved in many AtoN projects in offshore locations, helping ships navigate these waters and steer clear of hazardous sites such as oil and gas platforms or offshore wind farms. Most recently, we supplied three JET 9000s to mark an oil rig that was being decommissioned in the North Sea. With three-metre diameter hulls and 9,000 kilograms of buoyancy, these buoys are ideal for use in offshore and deepwater locations where a highly visible navigation buoy is required. These buoys also include monitoring and AIS capabilities to allow for remote observation away from the harsh conditions of the site.

Contact Hydrosphere today to discover the right navigational aid solution for your next project.