The Gloucester Harbour Trustees are responsible for the safety of navigation in the Gloucester Harbour, an area of the Severn Estuary stretching from seaward of the Second Severn Crossing to the weirs at Maisemore and Llantony near Gloucester and the River Wye to Bigsweir Bridge.
The passage from Sharpness docks to Avonmouth down the Severn Estuary is 18 nautical miles. The Severn Estuary has a large tidal range, over 10.5m at Sharpness and up to 14.8m at Avonmouth during spring tides and stream velocities can reach up to 8 knots. The river is wide and exposed but the main navigation channel is narrow and tortuous in places. The estuary contains many dangerous rocks and sand banks which are exposed at low water and the waters can quickly become very turbulent and confused, particularly in conditions of wind against tide.
There are between 350 and 400 commercial vessel movements in and out of Sharpness Dock each year. Cargoes include scrap metal, grain, cement, fertiliser, forest products and stone.
The Gloucester Harbour Trustees are responsible for navigation aids in the channel and for the provision of pilots. There are 22 various navigation aids, comprising 30 separate lights. The navigation aids come in different formats both ashore and in the estuary: pairs of leading lights and individual lights in the form of lattice work, stone and folding tower beacons as well as a buoy – all of which comprise daymarks in addition to the lights.
In 2020, the Harbour Master based in Sharpness contacted LED Illuminations to discuss the possibility of replacing the existing fluorescent light with LED. The challenge was to produce enough lumen output in the colour blue. After several samples, LED Illuminations made 2 x 1.5m IP66 ribbon strips each housing 180 x 2835LED. These had to operate on 12V as some are powered by remote batteries. The two strips were housed in a tri-proof fitment which is robust enough to withstand the harsh environment. The strips had a red adhesive tape to the back for ease of installation and a 1m power cord to one end.
After installing an initial 7 units in 2020, the Harbour Master updated a further 4 navigation aids in 2021.
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