DERA Buoy to assess impact of high-speed vessels

A new type of buoy, known as ‘Wavetector’ has been developed by scientists at DERA to measure and record the wash generated by high speed vessels including catamarans and the new generation of fast ferries.

The buoy will be used to establish operating limits which minimise the impact of the wash of high-speed vessels in sensitive areas. The buoy has been jointly developed by the hydrodynamics group at DERA Haslar and transport consultants IMAA Ltd. New technology means that it is compact, inexpensive, and durable. It is readily deployed by hand and can be monitored from a stand-by vessel or the nearby shore, in contrast to existing buoys which are heavy, hard to transport, expensive and not suitable for shallow water.

DERA scientists used their expertise in autopilot systems for controlling submarines at periscope depth to devise the height monitoring instrumentation fitted in the buoy. On-shore processing of the signal produces a record of wave height against time. Crucially, this can be achieved in real time and is transmitted to the computer via cable. A telemetry version, also providing real time information, is also in development and will be available in the near future.

Concerns expressed by The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency about the risks to small craft and beach users from the waves generated by the new generation of fast ferries mean this DERA/IMAA buoy can also aid harbour masters and ferry operators as they work together to reduce these risks.