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March 18, 2004
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Engineering professor stirs up controversy
Hot talk on ice
Dr. Claude Daley
Dr. Claude Daley gave an engaging and informative lecture on the properties of ice.
By Michelle Osmond
Dr. Claude Daley has been known to voice his opinions once or twice and he’s not shy about his passion for ice. Dr. Daley, a professor of ocean and naval architectural engineering in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science and director of the Ocean Engineering Research Centre, recently delivered the first public lecture in the Speaking of Engineering series. His topic: Ice.

“The economy and culture of Newfoundland is intimately connected with the sea and with ice,” he said. “Ice costs the province billions in actual expenses (e.g. Hibernia, Terra Nova), future expenses (e.g. Voisey’s Bay), and many billions more in lost opportunities. After all ice is the reason we have no gas industry up to now. Also, in terms of safety (offshore platforms, ferries, and towns) ice is a significant hazard.”

Dr. Daley spent the first 30 minutes explaining to the 70 or so people who attended the basics of ice and wowed them with the tale of one iceberg that was over 250 kilometres long and more than 70 kilometres wide.

Dr. Daley went on to explain what not to do when building a ship or a structure that will have to withstand icebergs and glacier ice 100 times its size.

The Hibernia platform, for example, has “points” to act as a kind of bumper to reduce the magnitude of the ice loads.

“The problem is that the points have limited value in reducing the load, but they have the unwanted effect of increasing the effect for any off-centre load,” he said. “They enable an off-centre load to twist the platform, which is not good. I suspect that a better design balance would be a smooth round structure. This does not suggest that there is any significant danger. I know that the structure is very safe, but it could be improved.”

Dr. Daley also commented on a false sense of security that surrounds the Marine Atlantic ferries. Last month, more than 185 passengers were stranded on the Caribou between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia for almost three days. The ferry made it through thick ice with the help of a Canadian Coast Guard cutter. A second ferry, the Joseph and Clara Smallwood, also got stuck a few kilometres from Nova Scotia with about 85 people on board.

“They are designed to operate in sea ice. (But) if they hit heavier ice or icebergs at speed they would be seriously damaged. The major risk with ice is pressure, which may, in rare cases, rupture the hull and flood the car deck. If that happened, the ship would most likely be lost. It’s not a likely thing to happen, but I believe pressure, along with ship-ship collisions and groundings, are risks.”

He’s quick to point out, however, that the ferries are fully able to sail in our waters and are being operated safely with proper inspections. But part of the problem, adds Dr. Daley, is that Canada does not have the resources to comply with what is regarded as the most important international treaty concerning the safety of commercial and passenger ships: the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea. The first version of this treaty was adopted in 1914 after the Titanic disaster.

The Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, along with the Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Newfoundland and Labrador, initiated the public lecture series to highlight engineering milestones and research, and to shed some light on the diverse nature of engineering professionals in our province. On April 20, 2004, Dr. Mary Williams will speak about the history and future of shipping and how it has made St. John’s the gateway to the Arctic.


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Next issue: April 8, 2004

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