Cordage innovations continue to stretch capability, durability
Professional Mariner|September 2020
Cordage innovations continue to stretch capability, durability
Cordage, mainly towing and mooring lines, is being required to do more in a new maritime age as cargo vessels get larger and tugboats get more powerful. In response, manufacturers have continued to innovate.
Alan R. Earls

Global shipping giants Wilhelmsen and Maersk, for example, are adopting a technology called the Snap Back Arrestor (SBA) for mooring lines. Developed by Norway-based Timm Ropes, it includes a special core within the rope that elongates more than the surrounding fibers, acting to absorb and dampen the energy released when lines part under strain.

SBA is significant because mooring is one of the most dangerous duties for crews and port workers. Snap back accounts for 60 percent of mooring accidents, with one in seven of those incidents resulting in a fatality, according to the UK P&I Club.

Sarah Padilla, technical director at the Cordage Institute in Wayne, Pa., said there are also plenty of other new developments coming from the industry. She cited Dynamica Ropes, the Denmark-based maker of Dyneema, which has worked with partners to develop synthetic-fiber chains for anywhere traditional maritime chains are used. “These chains help with human-factor ergonomics by being lightweight, thereby reducing potential back injuries,” Padilla said.

Evolving needs and solutions

In North America, the cordage market has been dominated by a few large companies, some manufacturing here and others internationally. Among the most noteworthy and innovative players are Cortland (Puget Sound Rope) and Samson Rope in the United States, and Novabraid in Canada.

Michelle Jarvis, commercial marine product manager at Samson Rope, said customers are typically looking for durability, a predictable product lifetime, condition evaluation programs to plan replacement cycles, resilience to extreme loading conditions, reduced risk exposure for crew safety, efficiency on board, and remote support for training and inspections. Developments in the size of vessels and their use patterns have helped shape manufacturer responses to these basic needs.

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September 2020