How Are Navigational Risks Addressed After They Are Identified?

This question was supplied by the ‘Ask the Experts’ database managers.

Reviewed by: John O’Keeffe

Last Update: October 7th, 2020

The Ask the Experts database managers adapted an interview with John O’Keeffe (Head of Marine Affairs for North America at Ørsted) that was conducted by URI students’— Eileen Dillon, Jack Gilmour, Jake McNamara and JP Monteverdi for their Marine Affairs capstone course instructed by Dr. Austin Becker, Associate Professor. The interview takes a deep dive into Navigational Risk at the Block Island Wind Farm.

After a navigational risk assessment has been conducted for an offshore renewable energy site, the developer must formulate a strategy to best mitigate the risks that have been identified. The essential question that developers work to ask and answer is “how can we make users aware that there is now a fixed structure where it previously didn’t exist?” Many considerations go into developing these mitigation strategies. One common consideration is the spacing and layout of the structures. Another is navigational warnings. These typically consist of lighting and markings.

Other navigational requirements include working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to update both paper and electronic navigational charts. O’Keeffe says, there is a particular level of detail necessary for avoidance and mitigation because the goal is to examine and reduce any risk that may exist because of the development. To do so, developers are required to have an understanding of the ways that various ocean users may be impacted.

If the risk increases for a certain group of users, developers must determine how it can be decreased. To do so, they ask— in what ways can mitigation strategies work to return the risk to an acceptable level? An important note that O’Keeffe stresses is that one is, “never going to completely reduce risk; but, you have to mitigate as much as possible”.