UK Ministry of Defence adopts SurfZoneView

The UK Ministry of Defence recently purchased an operational license for SurfZoneView, the New Zealand Navy software tool to support amphibious operations and beach landings.

New Zealand Defence Force amphibious operation (Image: Defence Technology Agency)

New Zealand Defence Force amphibious operation (Image: Defence Technology Agency)

“Waves and currents make the surf zone a very dangerous environment,” explains Dr Rafael Guedes, senior oceanographer at MetOcean Solutions. “SurfZoneView provides high-resolution maps of the sea conditions in the surfzone, which helps determine the safest times and locations to offload equipment and personnel. This is crucial to the management of amphibious operations.”

Designed by MetOcean Solutions in partnership with the New Zealand Defence Force, SurfZoneView is based on the state-of-the-art XBeach numerical model. By resolving the main processes in this complex environment, the software clearly maps out the nearshore conditions and includes risk management tools to assist operational decision making.

“We are very pleased to supply our tool to one of the world’s largest defence forces,” says oceanographer Andre Lobato who manages the software updates. “It's great that the license also allows the tool to be used by the UK MetOffice for civilian purposes, such as search and rescue and beach safety analysis.”

The UK purchase coincides with the release of a new version of SurfZoneView.

“We had important feedback from amphibious units in Italy, UK, Australia and New Zealand. The new release incorporates a range of features requested by users after real training exercises,” continues Andre.

The tool clearly shows safe and unsafe zones for beach landings, and users can compare the relative safety of landing at different areas along a stretch of coastline, or at different times within a seven day forecast. Safety profiles allow users to test settings and examine how safety tolerances and vessel draughts alter the predictions.

 
 

In 2016, MetOcean Solutions won the Minister of Defence Industry Awards of Excellence for the SurfZoneView software. The uptake of the software by UK is further recognition of the value that accurate modelling, presented in a user-friendly format, can offer naval personnel operating in nearshore areas.

For more information on SurfZoneView, click here, or view the video for the 2016 award here.

Contact us on enquiries@metocean.co.nz for a trial version or demonstration of SurfZoneView.

SurfZoneView part of Defence Force training exercise

MetOcean Solutions joined the Defence Technology Agency (DTA) in a training exercise in Army Bay, Whangaparoa during May. As part of a larger trial involving the New Zealand Navy and Air Force, DTA were testing a wave buoy and integrating the data into the SurfZoneView beach landing software.

The field phase of Exercise Joint Waka was held at Army Bay and the inner Hauraki Gulf from 14-19 May 2017. It involved New Zealand Army vehicles, amphibious sealift vessel HMNZS CANTERBURY, and Royal New Zealand Air Force NH90 medium utility helicopters. The exercise sought to enhance the New Zealand Defence Force’s ability to deploy offshore to deal with any contingencies including humanitarian crisis, natural disasters and instability within our region.

Figure 1: HMNZS Canterbury

Figure 2: Amphibious vessel used for the landing exercise.

Developed in a collaboration between DTA and MetOcean Solutions, SurfZoneView allows the visualisation of beach landing conditions. Moving people and equipment from sea to land is one of the most complex tasks completed by the New Zealand Defence Force. Such operations are necessary when port facilities are not available, for example when providing natural disaster relief in New Zealand and the Pacific. The safety and success of shore landings are largely dependent on surf zone conditions, and SurfZoneView uses hydrodynamic modelling to provide a rapid and accurate assessment of the waves and currents at any location. Clear, easy-to-use maps of the nearshore conditions are displayed along with tools to assist with operational decision making.

Figure 3: Dr Jamie Halla (left) and Theo Zlatanov (right) from DTA and Dr Rafael Guedes from MetOcean Solutions (centre) getting ready for the trial on the Canterbury ship.

Senior Oceanographer Dr Rafael Guedes was involved with the trial. “It is very hard to assess the beach conditions when you are out at sea. Wave breaking patterns and surf zone currents can change drastically over only a few tens of metres as they are influenced by local bathymetry. By the time a vessel is close enough to the shore to allow operators to judge conditions, it is often already impacted by the waves. SurfZoneView allows operators to visualise the conditions over a stretch of coastline, to help them decide where the best landing place is that day, or sometime in the near future.

Figure 4: It is very hard to assess nearshore conditions from sea.

“The surf zone conditions vary from day to day depending on wind direction, swell characteristics and general circulation. To model the surf zone, the software needs input data describing offshore conditions. These data can either come from forecasts or from real-time measurements such as those from a wave buoy.

Figure 5: Screenshot from MetOceanView showing the forecast site at the location where the New Zealand Defence Force wavebuoy was deployed.

“In this training exercise, we used both. DTA deployed a wave buoy to provide real-time conditions, and we also set up a high resolution forecast site for the location. We can set up a forecast site within an hour, rapidly making available reliable wind, wave and current predictions. The buoy data provides an accurate description of the local conditions, and the forecast allows us to predict how these conditions will change over time.

“During the training exercise, a local storm developed. Waves near the landing site rose to over 1.5 m in just a few hours, with wave periods progressively increasing and directions shifting from north-east to northerly. The development was tracked on SurfZoneView, allowing us to predict conditions around the shore landing site, and how these would change over time as the storm progressed.”

See the example maps of the maximum wave height predicted by SurfZoneView in Figure 7, during the events marked by the black vertical lines in Figure 6. Information from the model is automatically processed to define safety thresholds including whether it is safe to attempt landing on the shore. These thresholds can then form part of the information assessed by operational staff when making a go / no-go decision.

Figure 6: Forecast provided by MetOcean Solutions during the period of the exercise, showing significant wave height  (Hs) and peak wave period  (Tp). Black vertical lines show the events along the development of the storm chosen as input conditions for SurfZoneView. Significant wave height, Hs, is the average height (in metres) of the largest one-third waves. It approximately corresponds to the height of waves as estimated by a trained observer at sea. Peak wave period (Tp) is the wave period (in seconds) of the most energetic waves in a sea state.

Figure 7: As the storm progresses, landing conditions worsen. Example output for the two events highlighted in Figure 6, showing maximum wave height increasing around the landing location. Coloured line along the shoreline displays safety thresholds for the landing vessel. 

“Models are most accurate when we use the best possible input data," adds Rafael. "Wave buoys provide site-specific, accurate data very quickly. Using such buoys alongside SurfZoneView allows the New Zealand Defence Force to go to any location, deploy a buoy and within less than an hour access accurate data to help them land personnel and supplies safely. To aid operation planning, MetOcean Solutions can set up a site-specific forecast for anywhere in the world. This means that we can quickly generate a forecast for wherever SurfZoneView needs to be used, thereby providing the best possible support for the Defence Force and other users.

“We are grateful to be invited to participate in this training exercise. Testing it under real conditions provides important information on where the tool adds value operationally. Coincidentally, we also assisted the Italian Littoral Warfare Unit with similar tests in Sardinia during May, and gained valuable feedback. ”

Figure 8: Based on chart depth, wave height, tide level and wave setup, SurfZoneView displays safe water levels for vessels approaching the shore. Left: map displaying safety thresholds. Right transect (indicated on map) profiles for (top): maximum wave height, including cross-hatched area for breaking waves; and (bottom): water depth and corresponding safety thresholds.

SurfZoneView was developed in close collaboration with DTA, and several overseas navies have indicated interest in purchasing the software.

SurfZoneView finalist for KiwiNet Award

SurfZoneView was used by NZDF to support beach landings on a recent mission in Fiji.

SurfZoneView was used by NZDF to support beach landings on a recent mission in Fiji.

The New Zealand Defence Technology Agency (DTA) and MetOcean Solutions are finalists for the 2017 KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Award. The award is for the SurfZoneView tool, which was developed by MetOcean Solutions in partnership with the Defence Technology Agency (DTA) to support beach landing operations conducted by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF). The DTA is the main provider of research, science and technology support to the NZDF and the Ministry of Defence.

The KiwiNet award is New Zealand’s premier event celebrating the organisations and individuals that turn scientific discoveries into innovative products and services that will grow the New Zealand economy.

SurfZoneView is one of three finalists in the running in the MinterEllisonRuddWatts Research & Business Partnership category.

SurfZoneView is a tactical decision aid to support beach landings. Moving people and equipment from sea to land is one of the most complex tasks completed by the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF). Amphibious operations are required when port facilities are not available, most commonly when supporting our neighbours in the Pacific or New Zealanders at home after natural disasters such as Cyclone Winston and the Kaikoura earthquakes. The safety and success of amphibious landings are largely dependent on surf conditions.

In humanitarian and disaster relief, safe and efficient transfer of people and equipment is required. SurfZoneView is a fast, reliable and simple software tool that can be used by command teams to plan and execute safe and efficient amphibious and nearshore operations. Based on hydrodynamic modelling, SurfZoneView allows a rapid assessment of the waves and currents at any coastal location. Clear, easy-to-use maps of the nearshore conditions are displayed, and tools are provided to assist with operational decision making.

In 2016, SurfZoneView won the Ministry of Defence Industry Awards of Excellence in the category 'Provision of a product to Defence for less than $15 million'. 

KiwiNet (the Kiwi Innovation Network) is New Zealand’s network of public research organisations, working together to transform scientific discoveries into marketable products and services.

The winners of the award 2017 KiwiNet Awards will be announced on 13th July 2017.

Read more about the nomination on the KiwiNet website.

MetOcean Solutions award video released

The Ministry of Defence has released their video for the Defence Industry Awards of Excellence. 

MetOcean Solutions won the prestigious 'Provision of a product to Defence for less than $15 million' category for the SurfZoneView software. 

SurfZoneView is a tool designed to assist amphibious landings by modelling and visualising surf conditions. The tool was developed in a close working relationship with the Defence Technology Agency.

MetOcean Solutions is a proud recipient of the Award of Excellence.

MetOcean Solutions is a proud recipient of the Award of Excellence.

"Getting personnel and gear safely ashore can be very tricky," states Dr David Johnson who worked with the DTA to develop the tool. "We are very happy to have created something that will help keep the Royal New Zealand Navy personnel safe." 

MetOcean Solutions is now making the tool commercially available to navies, civil defence agencies and coast guards around the world.

MetOcean Solutions wins NZ Defence award

New Zealand Defence Force during training operations.

New Zealand Defence Force during training operations.

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced MetOcean Solutions a winner of the annual Minister of Defence Industry Awards of Excellence for 2016. The company won the 'Provision of a product to Defence for less than $15 million' category for the SurfZoneView software. SurfZoneView is a tool designed to assist amphibious landings by modelling and visualising surf conditions. 

"We are very proud to receive the award," says Technical Director Dr David Johnson. "The creation of SurfZoneView was an excellent collaborative project in which we worked together with the New Zealand Defence Technology Agency to take their concept from vision to reality. It is a great example of applying leading edge oceanographic science to solve real-world problems. We are very happy to have created something that will help keep the Royal New Zealand Navy personnel safe." 

MetOcean Solutions is now making the tool commercially available to navies, civil defence agencies and coast guards around the world.

"The safe transfer of equipment and personnel from sea onto land is fraught with difficulty for any agency operating in the nearshore environment," adds Dr Johnson. "Beach landings are notoriously dangerous, but through modelling the wave and current conditions we can identify safe transects and landing spots. The user inputs the bathymetry of the area of interest and specifies the offshore wave conditions, and the tool does the rest.

"MetOcean Solutions provided forecasts for the naval landings in Kaikoura in connection with evacuation of people following the earthquakes there." 
 
David believes that the success of the SurfZoneView was the result of good collaboration with the Defence Technology Agency.
 
"Close relationships are critical to solve the key challenges facing New Zealand. We have a finite pool of people and resources to protect, manage and understand the vast ocean and extensive coastline of New Zealand. We have a collaborative project underway to deploy a wave buoy further south than ever done before. The involvement of the Defence Technology Agency and contribution of a New Zealand Defence Force vessel to do the deployment will be critical for the success of that project."

Click here to watch our SurfZoneView video, and here for a PDF detailing the tool.

Click here for the Ministry of Defence press release.