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Creating a Current Atlas for the Port of Zeebrugge

Jeroen Aardoom, Pim van Santen, Shauna Ni Fhlaithearta, Frans Claeys, Hans Poppe,


Current Atlas

Current atlases are used in many ports around the world to assist shipping on approach and within the harbour. The Flemish government contracted Aqua Vision (the Netherlands) and Eurosense Planning and Engineering (Belgium), to compile a new current atlas for the port of Zeebrugge.


Making a current atlas

The port was split into several distinct zones. Three survey vessels were equipped with acoustic Doppler current profilers (ADCPs) and deployed to simultaneously survey during spring tide, neap tide and average tide. For each type of tide, the three boats surveyed all zones in two days of 13-hour measurements. Data reprocessing was performed using Aqua Vision’s software ViSea, affording real-time synchronization between ADCP, GPS, gyro compass and motion sensor. Data quality control, presentation and current atlas generation was done using Aqua Vision’s ViSea DPS (Data Presentation Software).



Creating a current atlas for the outer Harbour at Zeebrugge was not without its challenges. Any approaching shipping in this busy port not only requires a survey vessel to veer off track, but can also disturb the acoustic signal from the ADCP.  Ultimately, this results in poorer data, time delays and gaps in survey coverage.


Central Surveyor Station

A central surveyor station was created at the Eurosense office in Zeebrugge, to optimise planning and anticipation of shipping activities. Here, the surveyor oversaw the survey activities of all three boats via a remote desktop connection with each onboard survey PC. At the same time, the surveyor kept a close eye on shipping activity via In this way the central surveyor could anticipate impending survey disturbances and relay a new survey strategy to the onboard surveyor and skipper – resulting in increased safety and an optimised survey strategy.


Surveying from the office?

With the advent of high speed mobile internet it is now possible to remotely operate survey software. With a central surveyor station, like that used in Zeebrugge, are we seeing the precursor of remote surveying?


Central Surveyor Station