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Merseyside History, Port Assisted Radar

THE port of Liverpool was the very first UK to used radar to help assist the massive amounts of shipping that uses the port.  Still to this day the system is in use and cuts down valuable waiting times with the loading and unloading of shipping and also provides an indispensable tool to assist in the safety of vessels of all shapes and sizes entering and leaving the port.   The photographs were taken in 1999.  We would like to thank Mersey Docks and Harbor Company for their help, information and allowing us access.   We also would like to thank HSBC Bank and Tarmac (Special Products), who sponsored the documentary that these shots are from.

Photographs taken by Patrick Trollope BA(Hons) LBPPA. 

Above are the displays the radar operators use.  The display, above on the left, is one of several that can be selected.  This one allows the operator to see the shipping's location, name of vessel and other details displayed.   The operator keeps track of the shipping and tells the pilot boats when to meet boats and informs the boats what is going on.   They also keep the shipping lanes monitored and this enables the safe navigation of the once torturous shipping lanes.    Also available to the operator are tide heights, wind speed and direction as well as other information, that can be obtained via other screens like the one on the right.  The one on the right shows the tide high via buoys and tidal gauges in the Irish Sea and on the Mersey.     All this allows the boats to be met and taken in faster at the optimum times making it cheaper, safer and quicker.     
For example, say a boat with a cargo of grain is picked up on approach at Holyhead, the operator informs the boat that a pilot will meet it at a set location and time.  The pilot is then informed and the pilot boat sent out.  At the same time the office staff are informed and they get the massive operations underway on the dock side ready for unlading the boats cargo.  They also get the return cargo ready for loading.   
As soon as the boat is docked, the port goes into action and the pilot is sent back to the pilot boat ready to go out to the next boat or sent to an outgoing boat.    The boat with the grain is also unloaded as this is going on and reloaded rapidly.   Then the operator is informed and the process is repeated, this time reversed with the boat going out and the pilot boat being informed when to set off and pick up the next vessel.  The process is repeated 24 hours a day 365 days a year.    

Mersey Reporter and Liverpool Reporter are Trade Marks of Patrick Trollope.   Copyright Patrick Trollope 2004