The International Marine Contractors Association (IMCA) has introduced a set of guidelines designed to bolster safety and efficiency in dynamic positioning (DP) operations within shallow waters, particularly concerning offshore wind projects. The newly released “Recommended Practice for Shallow Water DP Operations (IMCA M263)” provides a comprehensive framework for understanding and executing DP operations in areas where numerous fixed assets are concentrated, and an increased number of vessels heightens the risk of collision.
IMCA's M263 builds upon previous guidance documents and offers a more in-depth perspective on DP operations in shallow waters. This guidance aims to provide clarity for land-based project managers, enabling them to better comprehend timeframes and processes, leading to more realistic expectations. It also seeks to minimize downtime during heavy lift operations in the installation phase and improve walk-to-work operations throughout the wind farm's operational life.
While emphasizing the importance of avoiding redundancy with existing IMCA guidance, the document underscores the critical need for two dynamic positioning operators (DPOs) dedicated solely to bridge operation safety. It also offers essential insights into selecting position reference systems suitable for shallow waters and outlines additional environmental factors that require consideration.
The guidance aims to bridge knowledge gaps, empowering vessel operators to challenge unrealistic expectations set by onshore managers and establish more practical timelines. This is especially vital for marine operations, which often face an increased risk of collision during simultaneous operations (SIMOPS).
Richard Purser, Technical Adviser – Marine at IMCA, explained the context behind this initiative, stating, “The publication of this Guidance was explicitly requested by our Members, the participants at our DP Conference in 2022, and the DP Committee as a way of providing additional support for DPOs, project engineers, planners, and clients. It addresses the pressures caused by unrealistic expectations throughout the installation process, which will decrease the risk of human error. Not only do we hope that this will cut down on downtime caused by near-misses, collisions, and other incidents, but it will ensure a safer working environment.”
The release of IMCA M263 reflects the industry's commitment to safety and efficiency in offshore wind operations, aiming to enhance practices and reduce risks, ultimately creating a safer and more productive environment for all stakeholders.