A Collaborative Approach to Port Monitoring, Investigation and Testing Saves Time and Reduces Costs

Ports and harbours play a huge role in driving the UK’s economy, so ensuring that they are well maintained, able to accommodate future growth and have minimal impact on the environment is vital.  Against the backdrop of reduced budgets, a highly aggressive and complex marine environment and the typical scale of operations makes achieving those objectives a constant challenge for a range of professionals and operators.

Understanding the behaviour of marine assets and the impact operations have on marine life and local communities is a core component of long term planning and decision making, from design stages through to construction and operation. 

SOCOTEC supports that process by providing a diverse range of instrumentation, monitoring, investigation and testing services, and will be showcasing that support at the Ports Development Conference on 1 May, London.  

With in-house experts and resources positioned throughout the UK, designers, port operators and contractors can benefit from a single point of contact, providing greater cost and time efficiencies.  Our port monitoring, investigation and testing services includes:

Geotechnical and structural monitoring

Geotechnical and structural monitoring systems enable harbour and port managers to keep abreast of unforeseen responses and provide a tool to assess whether there are any long-term movement trends.

As part of their asset management programmes and commitment to maximising operational life, monitoring systems can be installed to measure the impact of tidal influence on structures such as existing piers, quay walls, cranes, anchorage points and piles, covering parameters such as changes in inclination, water level, pore water pressure, displacement and ground pressure.

If your port is undergoing development works and is founded on reclaimed or soft ground, geotechnical monitoring systems can also ensure that fill material is sufficiently compacted prior to construction of infrastructure, or detect any instability of existing assets caused by development works.

Marine Management Organisation (MMO) sediment analysis

SOCOTEC was the first non-Government body to gain approval from the MMO to carry out marine sediment analysis. Often required by harbour authorities and ports seeking accurate information relating the contamination of a seabed by environmental pollutants, SOCOTEC is validated to test for trace metals, polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), petroleum hydrocarbon (THC), organotin compounds and total organic carbon (TOC) in marine sediments.

By analysing water and sediment of soils, we can aid in the accurate characterisation of contaminants and subsequent management solutions to ensure minimal impact on the environment.

Noise and vibration monitoring

Protecting the marine and onshore environments from the effects of anthropogenic (human-made) noise and vibration is an important objective of all port and harbour development projects.

SOCOTEC’s scientists and technicians have the experience and the monitoring equipment to support this objective with services including underwater acoustic monitoring and land-based noise and vibration monitoring. We can also liaise with regulators and local authorities on behalf of port and harbour operators to ensure that regulations are being met.

Hydrographic, geophysical and laser surveys

Understanding the topographical and geophysical make-up of the seabed and recording the position of onshore assets is of vital importance for marine infrastructure projects. We can accurately survey the interface between the built and the marine environments, as well as provide related guidance and interpretation.

Services include hydrographic and bathymetric surveys, magnetometry and UXO investigation, seismic reflection and refraction, vessel mounted laser scanning, multi beam echo sounding, ADCP and tidal monitoring, and side scan sonar surveys.

Overwater and onshore ground investigations

By establishing the physical and chemical properties of underlying soils, we can provide comprehensive information that informs port and harbour design and/or construction projects.

To help our clients to minimise ground related uncertainty and maximise project efficiencies, we can offer cone penetration testing and UXO surveys, borehole drilling, dynamic probes and sample recovery, specialist in-situ testing (HPD and SBP), down hole geo-logging, geotechnical and environmental laboratory testing and contaminated land assessment and consulting, including asbestos management. 

Earthworks, aggregates and fresh concrete testing

Obtaining accurate measurements and evaluations of all materials to ensure they are fit for purpose is of particular importance when located in a harsh marine environment. We can provide in-situ plate and density testing, laboratory classification testing, CPT and ‘zone pad’ tests as well as project specific on-site laboratories.

As well as offering comprehensive marine monitoring, investigation and testing services, SOCOTEC can work closely with clients throughout the full project lifecycle, from early contractual involvement through to project completion, operation and decommissioning.

For more information on SOCOTEC’s services for marine, ports and harbours, you can visit:

If you would like to learn more or speak to one of our specialists, representatives from SOCOTEC will be attending the Ports Development Conference in London on 1 May to showcase the company’s range of marine services. Drawing on a range of recent projects, including Newhaven Port Access Road, Aberdeen Harbour Expansion Project, London Gateway and Dover Prince of Wales Pier, our team is happy to discuss your requirements and the benefits to port operators and managers of working with a single service provider.  

If you are unable to attend and would like more information or advice about the best services for your port or harbour, please call or email our central sales team on 0845 203 2112 or

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