Smart Mooring for safer port operations

Predictive and actionable insights help berth vessels at a deep-water bulk terminal

Our predictions made RAK PORTS safer

Saqr Port, located near the Strait of Hormuz in Ras al Khaimah, is a major hub for the Middle East’s industrial supply chain, with an annual cargo capacity of more than 100 million tonnes. In 2018, operator RAK Ports expanded the port with a deep-water bulk terminal for large vessels.

However, metocean conditions proved difficult to predict, risking damage, downtime, and unsafe mooring for ships. Using Royal HaskoningDHV’s Smart Mooring software, the Harbour Master can now make more informed decisions about how and when to berth vessels, with predictive insights which use a combination of weather data and hydrodynamic calculations.   


Strong waves at a recently built deep-water bulk terminal were causing extended downtime and risking damage to large ships.


RAK ports


Ras al Khaimah, UAE


2020 – 2021 and operational in the comming years


Using Royal HaskoningDHV’s predictive Smart Mooring software, port operators and ship captains get proactive notifications about the metocean conditions around the port, helping them reduce the risk to visiting ships, tugs, and infrastructure.


Bas van Son (Product Lead)
Alex van Deyzen (Lead Engineer)
Marijn Pannekoek (Software)
Koos Toebes (Engineer)
Hanwei Wang (Mooring engineer)
Olaf Schol (Metocean engineer)


Hampered operations along exposed bulk terminal

Since October 2018, a deep-water bulk terminal, located outside the breakwaters of Saqr Port in Ras al Khaimah, has been operational for large vessels ranging from Panamax to Capesize. 

However, in the first year of operation the port has experienced significant challenges in its new location, particularly with swell waves. Within the winter period, the terminal had numerous days of downtime due to adverse metocean conditions. 

Additionally, operator RAK Ports was seeing many reports of snapped mooring lines and even occasional damage to tugs and fenders. 

The port started collecting data to predict when metocean conditions would lead to unsafe situations for moored vessels. However, wave predictions didn’t give port operators the full overview and deep insights they needed to ensure safe mooring conditions. 

The port needed help from vessel hydrodynamics experts – so it approached Royal HaskoningDHV.


Predictive and actionable insights

Early in 2020, Royal HaskoningDHV investigated the situation and worked with RAK Ports to set up the innovative Smart Mooring system, focusing on the deep-water bulk terminal at Saqr Port.

The Smart Mooring software uses a combination of weather forecasts, metocean data, hydrodynamic calculations, and predictive analytics to estimate mooring conditions and ship motions days in advance. These insights support operational decisions in the port control centre, on the terminal and by the ship captains. 


Safer mooring and reduced downtime

To ensure safe mooring and keep incidents such as snapping lines to a minimum at the outer berths of Saqr Port, the Harbour Master needed more detailed insight into the interaction between vessels and metocean conditions. Using the Smart Mooring software, the Harbour Master can now decide when and how to berth different types of ships in different conditions, helping captains moor their ships safely.

The project’s secondary objective was to reduce downtime, which proved a particular issue for the terminal in the winter of the first year. By introducing Smart Mooring, the port’s team has been able to plan more effectively, leading to reduced downtime, improved cargo handling efficiency, and even a record throughput in the first quarter of 2021

The system is proving very useful to us. For example, during a period of poor sea conditions in mid-March, we kept a Capesize vessel alongside, but decided not to berth a Panamax vessel, based on the Smart Mooring output.

Captain Michael Magee

Group Harbour Master at RAK Ports