Ports 25 Conference Paper: on Enhanced Propeller Wash Modeling for Mitigation of Sediment Resuspension in Port Environments

Authors: Jeffrey Jung, Paul Craig, Wei-Cheng Wu, and Tom Mathis
Dates: June 1-4, 2025
Location: Providence, RI, USA

Port authorities, maritime environmental regulators, and engineers tasked with designing sustainable and environmentally responsible port operations will find the findings of this paper essential. This is because this study elevates sediment transport modeling from predictive analytics to active management, offering port authorities actionable strategies to minimize environmental impacts.


In busy port areas, propeller wash from ship traffic poses significant challenges by resuspending sediments and dispersing contaminants, impacting aquatic ecosystems and sediment stability. Building on previous foundational models, this study introduces an advanced simulation approach using the Environmental Fluid Dynamics Code Plus (EFDC+) to predict and mitigate the environmental impacts of propeller wash. The newly incorporated mitigation strategies are designed to reduce sediment disturbance through operational modifications and engineered solutions.

Our model dynamically simulates the interaction between vessel movements, propeller-induced hydrodynamics, and sediment transport processes, enhanced by data integration from the Automatic Identification System (AIS). Our simulations are validated against field data from San Diego Naval Base, showing high predictive accuracy (Nash-Sutcliffe Efficiency of 0.85-0.98). We further apply this model to assess the impact of different mitigation strategies, such as altered vessel paths and speeds, engineered barriers, and sediment stabilization techniques in the San Diego Bay harbor area.

The results demonstrate the effectiveness of these strategies in reducing sediment resuspension during vessel berthing and unberthing, significantly lowering the ecological impact and enhancing port sustainability. This advanced modeling tool offers valuable insights for port managers, engineers, and environmental regulators in designing and implementing effective sediment and ecosystem protection plans in port and navigation channels.

We hope to see you at this conference to learn about how DSI has implemented new and innovative techniques, technologies, and delivery methods to support port authorities in minimizing environmental impacts. The integration of AIS data and mitigation strategies into sediment transport modeling represents a novel approach, providing a more dynamic and responsive tool for environmental management in maritime settings.

The main challenge was integrating diverse data sources and complex physical processes into a unified model. The solution involved refining data processing techniques and enhancing the model's computational efficiency to handle increased complexity.

Let us know if you have questions or interest in this topic. We hope to see you at the conference.

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