Estuary shipping and its possible developments in the medium term

Estuary shipping is sailing with reinforced inland navigation vessels over a small piece of open sea along the coastline, between the mouth of the Scheldt and the port of Zeebrugge. This special transport mode is the solution for the so-called "wet access" to the port of Zeebrugge. In this study we examine the technical background of the vessels used, and we look in detail at two possibilities that can improve the service of these ships: navigating with push barges and unmanned/autonomous sailing.

For estuary shipping there are conditions concerning robustness, safety, and economic feasibility. In this study, we will to investigate whether the boundaries can be pushed any further, and whether autonomous navigation and/or the use of pushed barges form a feasible solution in estuary shipping.

We will make a descriptive overview of the technical and operational conditions for the use of estuary shipping, and assess how the technological innovations fit in. We develop policy recommendations that take these conditions into account in order to implement the technological innovations.

The information is mainly gathered by means of literature studies and discussions with experts. This is supplemented by logistical insights from our own experience.

In this project, TML works in equal partnership with Tri-Vizor. We take the initiative for the literature study, while Tri-Vizor mainly manages the contacts with the experts and stakeholders.

The final report is expected by November 2021.




Flemish Waterways plc


Tri-Vizor (coördinatorcoordinator)

Our team

Sebastiaan Boschmans
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