Leading marina manufacturer Walcon Marine has designed, built and installed a bespoke Research Raft for the Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of Portsmouth. This multi-purpose platform is a valuable resource for the institute, supporting both the work that it undertakes for commercial organisations and projects conducted by undergraduate and postgraduate students.
The raft is a platform made up of a series on pontoons fitted together to create an external perimeter measuring 11.7 by 7.5 metres, plus a walkway running down the centre. Researchers can then access two areas of enclosed water on either side of the walkway, each of which has six equipment rails running over the top. Safety rails run around both the external and internal perimeters with an access gate from the water on each of the longer sides.
The equipment rails are used to suspend experiments and instruments just below the surface of the water. Over time these will include tests of antifouling paint and their ability to counter marine organisms, assessments of biopolymers such as degradable plastics, and renewable energy projects such as small tidal turbines. The university’s forensic sciences department will also use the platform to study the effects of marine organisms on carcases to enable them to better differentiate the marks left by, for example, crabs versus a knife, when a body has been submerged in the sea for any given length of time. The raft will also have a seabin mounted on it for the collection and analysis of floating debris.
Other features include internal secure compartments to hold equipment and additional instruments, and the pontoons are fitted with GRP mesh decking for its low maintenance and excellent non-slip properties.
The Research Raft is now positioned in one of the main channels of Langstone Harbour, where it is exposed to the full tidal flow of up to six knots.
“We expect this to last at least 20 years,” said Dr Ian Hendy, Senior Scientific Officer at the Institute of Marine Sciences, University of Portsmouth. “It’s a large, solid piece of kit. Highly functional and exactly what we wanted. Walcon has delivered it perfectly and we are over the moon with it.”