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Design Criteria for Outer Structures at Ferry Landings

Description: In this research, global positioning system (GPS) technology was used to track the velocity and position of ferry vessels during berthing maneuvers, and vessel characteristics that affect berthing maneuvers were reviewed. Ferry vessels were tracked for 24 berthing maneuvers and five complete crossings. The research team found that the plot of vessel speed vs. distance from the landing structure was consistent and that the crews used a consistent sequence of throttle settings as they approached the berth. Changes of slope in a speed vs. distance plot were correlated to changes in throttle setting. Vessels used a variety of approach paths when they were more than 1,000 ft from the landing; however, the paths converged when the vessels were within 500 ft of the landing. Records of sea trials provided information on vessel turning and stopping ability. On the basis of the findings, a velocity vs. distance envelope was developed for use as ferry landing design criteria. The report recommends that GPS tracking could become a regular part of the ferry terminal design procedure and that future vessel tracking be conducted during sea trials and difficult landing situations.

  • Date Published: March, 1994
  • Publication Number: WA-RD 267.3
  • Last Modified: October 10, 2007
  • Authors: Charles T. Jahren, Steve Margaroni, Adele Scarpelli.
  • Originator: Washington State Transportation Center (TRAC)
  • # of Pages: 46 p., 834 KB (PDF)
  • Subject: Berthing facilities, Design, Ferries, Global Positioning System, Intermodal terminals, Maneuvering, Position fixing, Ships, Structural design, Tracking systems, Velocity.
  • Keywords: Ferry, vessel, port design, berthing, ferry landing design, fender design, ferry terminal design, global positioning system, sea trials.
  • Related Publications: Ferry Landing Design Criteria II: Vessel Tracking Methods for Ferry Landing Design, (WA-RD 267.1).
    Ferry Landing Design Criteria II: Vessel Characteristics and How They Influence Ferry Landing Design, (WA-RD 267.2).


This abstract was last modified April 29, 2008