Latest marine technology protects the Straits

Infographic of Enbridge Straits Maritime Operations Center 
The state-of-the-art Enbridge Straits Maritime Operations Center (ESMOC) represents a new, unprecedented level of maritime monitoring capability for a commercial company. Click on the image above to view a full-screen version of this infographic.

Enbridge completes installation of Guardian solution, ready for spring

March 10, 2021

Enbridge recently completed installation of the Guardian Asset Protection system in the Straits of Mackinac, as part of its commitment to continuing to transport safely the light crude oil and natural gas liquids (NGLs) on which a five-state region depends.

The system enables Enbridge to mark the dual Line 5 pipelines that cross the Straits, monitor local marine traffic and notify vessels to prevent incidents. It is an integral part of the Enbridge Maritime Operations Center (ESMOC), which Enbridge staffs 24/7.

Vesper Marine installed the Guardian Asset Protection solution for the portion of Line 5 that travels under the Straits. The system notifies incoming vessels about Line 5 in an effort to prevent anchor strikes to the pipeline.

Advanced technology scans the Straits

Commercial vessels, as well as a growing number of recreational vessels, have an automatic information system (AIS) unit. The AIS unit receives signals from the Guardian Asset Protection system that visually indicate markings and the location of Line 5. The data complements marine navigational charts and enhances awareness of Line 5.

Similarly, a virtual AIS station at the ESMOC control station in Mackinaw City, receives transmissions from vessels about their location and other information, such as speed and direction. Guardian Asset Protection software then analyzes the transmitted data and can notify the vessel directly that it is in a no anchor zone.

“Line 5 is a vital part of the Michigan energy infrastructure,” said Brady Cox, CEO of Vesper Marine. “It provides heating fuel to the majority of the state. We are proud to be a part of protecting not only the way of life for people in the area, but also the rich Great Lakes environment. This technology will lessen the chance of anchor strikes from ships crossing the Straits. The main point is safety—protecting the water and the people who use it.”

Reduces chance of anchor strikes by 99.5%

A recent assessment by C-FER Technologies found  the Guardian Asset Protection system alone would result in an 89 percent reduction in the risk of anchor strikes; however, when combined with the Enbridge Maritime Pipeline Protection Program of which the Guardian Asset Protection system is a part, there is 99.5 percent reduction in the chance of an anchor strike.

“The technology of the Guardian Asset Protection system is another measure that helps continue the safe operation of Line 5 in the Straits,” said Bob Lehto, Enbridge’s operations manager for the northern Michigan area. 

“It relies on the best maritime technology available and demonstrates our commitment of safe pipeline operations while the tunnel is being built. The use of such advanced technology plays a pivotal role in protecting our waterways, as well as our twin pipelines that are essential to the region’s residents and businesses.”

Find out more on the Guardian Protect System and Vesper.