Port of Brisbane Pty Ltd (PBPL), Australia, considered expanding its navigational channel to enable deeper draft vessels to pass through its waters. In order to carry out the planning effectively, the client implemented the Port Expansion Solution, which uses an integrated approach to reduce costs significantly, while ensuring safe working conditions at the port. This solution has paved the way to providing cost-efficient port expansion planning in the future.


Port of Brisbane Pty Ltd (PBPL), Australia, was considering options to expand capacity to provide access to larger, deeper drafted vessels.

Initial estimates of capital dredging costs were very high.

In addition, it was a concern that larger passing vessels would cause excessive moored vessel motion at key berths.


Implementation of DHI’s Port Expansion Solution.

Solution highlights:

  • Integrated numerical modelling approach
    Study multiple variables affecting channel capacity within the same modelling framework.
  • Detailed hydrodynamic and wave modelling
    Incorporating detailed effects of long-term dynamic variations in wind, water level, currents and waves.
  • Cutting-edge channel capacity and under keel clearance (UKC) assessment
    The most comprehensive and accurate assessment of powered vessel UKC response.
  • Time-domain moored vessel analysis
    Fast and accurate time-domain analysis, enabling the client to support effective mitigation strategies.


Reduction of dredging costs

in excess of 50% and reduction in environmental impacts compared to conventional methods

Improved risk management

of operational safety through navigational channels and at berth

Decision support tool

for cost-efficient planning of future activities

‘NCOS has been a game-changer for the Port of Brisbane. By boosting the Port’s capacity to handle larger vessels without compromising safety, we have added value to our customers and maximized efficiency for all Port users.’

Roy Cummins
Port of Brisbane

The full story


Adapting to larger container vessels

Port of Brisbane is one of Australia’s fastest growing container ports and Queensland’s premier multi-cargo port, handling almost AUD 50 billion in trade annually. Among a large suite of commitments, the Port of Brisbane Pty Ltd (PBPL) is responsible for the maintenance and development of the port facilities, as well as for ensuring navigable access to the port for commercial shipping.

As vessels increase in size and demand grows for Australian ports to take these larger vessels, PBPL considered options to deepen its navigational channel to enable deeper draft vessels to pass through its waters.

Many ports spend millions of dollars on dredging when adapting to larger vessels. PBPL required a comprehensive channel capacity assessment, to remove the need for unwarranted high levels of conservatism concerning channel deepening.

More than just digging deeper

Adapting to large vessel size is not just about under keel clearance. It also affects safety aspects at berth.

Large vessels passing through a navigation channel generate displacement waves (or draw down), which often impact vessels moored at adjacent berths. It is essential to ensure that excessive vessel motions at these berths are kept to a minimum so that working conditions within the port remain safe.

In summary, PBPL looked for the safest, most accurate and flexible solution for supporting their capacity expansion plans for the Port of Brisbane.


Developing an integrated approach

To accommodate the stringent demands for a more accurate and cost-effective channel optimisation solution, it was essential to develop an integrated numerical hydrodynamic model of the entire port and navigational channel covering both aspects of channel capacity and moored vessel interaction.

Historically, in order to reduce computational time, numerical models used for port expansion assessments have been focused towards one particular type of task. Although this only requires a one-off project cost, the approach encompasses a number of limitations. Often, a slight change of project scope or location requires significant rework, increasing costs considerably in the long run. Moreover, this approach also limits the opportunities for coupled and cumulative impact assessments. The ad hoc nature of such solutions and incompatibilities between the various models can make it difficult to compare independent studies.

To overcome these challenges, PBPL contracted DHI to implement our Port Expansion Solution.

How our solution works:

Our Port Expansion Solution is an integrated approach that can be used for a broad range of applications that are relevant to the port’s ongoing capacity planning and management:

  • An integrated approach
    Integrated numerical models allow you to investigate the accumulated effect of multiple constraints, for substantial cost and time savings and reduction in environmental impacts.

  • Hydrodynamic and wave modelling
    Incorporating long-term dynamic variations in wind, water level, currents and waves ensures realistic representation of environmental conditions and impacts throughout the port domain.

  • Channel capacity and under keel clearance
    The most accurate assessment of powered vessel response with the same level of sophistication as high-end full-bridge vessel simulators.

  • Moored vessel analysis
    Simulation of moored vessel motion in enclosed harbours exposed to multi-directional sea states or passing vessels enables you to support effective mitigation strategies.


Maximise operability, reduce dredging costs and increase safety

The integrated model enables PBPL to study several different variables related to the port’s ongoing capacity planning and management.

It provides a clear identification of all constricted parts of the approach channel with respect to grounding risk, and estimates associated dredge volumes required, to meet target operability criteria.

With PBPL now having a thorough understanding of the capacity and operational capability of the channel and associated berths, they are able to make accurate, cost-efficient decisions and safely handle the larger vessels of the future.

About the client

Port of Brisbane Pty Ltd (PBPL) is the entity responsible for managing and developing the Port of Brisbane in Queensland, Australia, under a lease from the Queensland Government.

Port of Brisbane is one of Australia’s fastest growing container ports and Queensland’s largest general cargo port. It is located at the mouth of the Brisbane River.

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