In spring 2021, we received a call from Patrick Verheyen. Verheyen is captain and co-owner of container ship “POLYBOTES”. In the past, “POLYBOTES” served as a ro-ro ship, but this spring the vessel was converted into an estuary container ship.

During this thorough refit, it was also decided to install Bridgescout®; noticed by Verheyen via an article in the Scheepvaartkrant newspaper. Verheyen has been active in shipping since 1987. Inland shipping, but also maritime shipping. During this period, he sailed around the world from mate to captain and also as skipper on European waterways. From 2014, he has been sailing as captain aboard “POLYBOTES”. Due to reports of collisions between barges and bridges in his network, as well as in the news, he is familiar with the risk and consequences of bridge collisions. Since “POLYBOTES” is estuary and sometimes has to ballast up to 1,500 tonnes to pass bridges safely due to its relatively high creep line, he decided to invest in a Bridgescout® system.

“Passing bridges is now safer and also less stressful as a result”. Logically, crews have to get used to and learn how to work with a new system on board. So does Bridgescout®. This mainly concerns the safety margin, which can be changed remotely at any time. At commissioning, it is set to 50 centimetres by default. “In the beginning, we were shocked to hear a spoken alarm “Wheelhouse too high” when we thought it should fit. That was still with a 50-centimetre safety margin. By mutual agreement, after a while this was set to 30 centimetres by Sensor Maritime. This is a good workable and safe margin for us.”

On board, Height Control has been chosen alongside Bridgescout®. By linking a sensor to the Bridgescout® system, the captain has insight into the wheelhouse height. The solution was created based on new technical regulations regarding the position of the wheelhouse. Additional advantage for the captain: “One can immediately set the wheelhouse to the correct height to sail under the bridge, namely wheelhouse height minus stern draft.”

Verheyen confirms that Bridgescout® assisting you with an extra pair of eyes is a really helpfull to crews to pass bridges safely:

“While cruising on the Albert Canal, we passed a 7-metre bridge with a vessel height of 6.7 metres. We received the message “Wheelhouse too high”. The water level of the canal was temporarily slightly higher than normal.”

This example is typical of the unique way Bridgescout® works. Bridgescout® makes a real-time scan. This means that Bridgescout® is not affected by external influences such as water levels, bridge heights and the position of the ship. This is because the measurement system does not calculate whether the ship can safely pass under the bridge, but measures this by means of a laser sensor. This means the crew does not have to do any calculations or enter data into the system themselves. For Verheyen, this is enough to recommend Bridgescout® within its network.

The process from application to installation went smoothly. Partly due to the smooth cooperation with Belgian installation partner Van Stappen & Cada. Since “POLYBOTES” was in Zeebrugge for the necessary modifications, it was quick and easy to switch; we could immediately proceed to schedule the installation and the work on board.

All in all, Verheyen is very satisfied with Bridgescout®. On behalf of Sensor Maritime, we thank him for his trust in our organisation and Bridgescout® and wish “POLYBOTES” a safe journey.

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