The Belgian part of the North Sea is crossed by two of the most densely navigated fairways in the world. The Belgian marine waters are therefore a high risk area for maritime accidents such as vessel to vessel collisions, wrecking, man overboard, loss of cargo, containers and drums or accidental oil spills and chemical pollutions. All these risks are taken very seriously by the Belgian coast guard structure.
In support to the coast guard structure, RBINS-OD Nature's Marine Forecast Centre (formerly known as the “Management Unit of the North Sea Mathematical Model”) has been developing and operating since 1982 several generations of mathematical models able to simulate trajectories of drifting objects and marine pollutions.
The FLOAT model was our flagship drift model between 2007 and 2012 and has proved to be a valuable tool reaping numerous successes at both national and European levels. For instance, it allowed predicting oil spill trajectories and beaching risks, contributing to the identification and prosecution of polluters or helped Police to solve missing person cases whose bodies were found back drifting at sea.
Although its successor (OSERIT) has been released in September 2012 offering new functionalities, the FLOAT model continues to be largely used and supported. Indeed, thanks to its user interface, coastguard operators can request drift simulations on a 24/7 basis and obtain preliminary information useful for the initial evaluation of a reported incident within a minute.