Vesper Marine’s Guardian solution installed in Straits of Mackinac

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(AUCKLAND, New Zealand) — Vesper Marine, a leading manufacturer of innovative marine safety products, has provided its Guardian Asset Protection solution to Enbridge Inc. to protect Line 5 in northern Michigan. Line 5 travels for a distance of 4.5 miles under the Straits of Mackinac, where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron meet. It has been identified by the company and stakeholders as having a risk of anchor strikes that could cause damage to the pipeline.

“Line 5 is a vital part of the Michigan energy infrastructure,” said Brady Cox, CEO, 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. Our Guardian Asset Protection solution gives Enbridge a system to mark its underwater infrastructure, monitor local marine traffic, and notify vessels to prevent accidents before they occur.”

To assess and report on measures that could be taken to mitigate the risk of anchor strikes in the straits, Enbridge engaged reliability consultant C-FER Technologies. The company assessed the impact of communication and warning technology to reduce the probability of an anchor coming into contact with Line 5. The key findings of C-FER Technologies were that the Guardian Asset Protection system alone would result in an 89 percent reduction in the risk of anchor strikes and that the overall Enbridge Maritime Pipeline Protection Program (EMP3), of which the Guardian Asset Protection system is a part, results in a 99.5 percent reduction in the risk of a vessel anchor strike.

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Vesper Marine photo

Guardian Asset Protection was installed and marks the Line 5 pipeline using virtual aids to navigation (virtual ATON) transmitted from a virtual AIS station at the Enbridge control tower on the southern shore of the Mackinac Straits. A virtual ATON is a special signal transmitted from one location to mark another remote point. The signals are received by existing AIS units installed on all commercial, as well as a growing number of recreational vessels in the area. Marks are displayed, identifying the location of the pipeline on the receiving boats’ AIS displays, which, in addition to notes on marine charts, further alerts vessels to the presence of the pipeline. The virtual AIS station that transmits the virtual ATON also receives AIS transmissions from vessels about their location and other information such as speed and direction.

Guardian Asset Protection includes cloud-based software that analyzes the telemetry of passing vessels and a notification is sent to the vessel directly on its navigation system that the boat is in a no anchor zone. All vessel behavior is recorded and can be played back for reference in case of an event or for training purposes. Guardian Asset Protection has been used in a similar capacity by the New York Power Authority to mark subsea cables in Long Island Sound.

“We are pleased to use the proven Guardian system to further enhance protection of the Line 5 pipeline,” said Mike Moeller, regional director of operations, Enbridge. “The Vesper Marine solution is part of our efforts to ensure we meet our obligations to all stakeholders.”

For more information on the Guardian Asset Protection system, Vesper Marine or its entire product line, visit

– Vesper Marine

By Professional Mariner Staff