Construction starts on Maritime Research Centre in Ostend

Summary

Ostend’s new research centre will allow scientists to simulate waves and other ocean activity that can have an effect on offshore constructions

Indoor oceans

Mobility and public works minister Ben Weyts kicked off the construction of the new Maritime Research Centre in Ostend yesterday. The centre will house Flanders Hydraulics Research and departments from the universities of Leuven and Ghent, which will conduct studies and research concerning the influence of waves, tides and wind on ships and offshore constructions.

The research centre is being built on the Plassendale 1 site at the port of Ostend and should help support the port and maritime sectors. It will be equipped with a towing tank and a coastal and ocean basin.

A towing tank allows researchers to test manoeuvres using models of ships. The basins simulate waves, currents and wind and are used to test the safety and functioning of offshore constructions, coastal defence constructions and wave energy convertors.

The first projects are expected to start in 2020. The government of Flanders and the two universities are investing a total of €28 million in the centre.

Weyts emphasised the importance of the centre for Flemish ports. “Guaranteeing their accessibility for increasingly larger ships is crucial for our economic position,” he said. “The research will furthermore also help to limit construction risks at sea and will allow large and smaller companies to react faster to developments on the market.”