Mariners to benefit as hi-tech weather buoy replaced

A hi-tech weather buoy which broke from its moorings off the south coast before Christmas and washed up in Devon in England was replaced yesterday.

The Marine Institute led the operation about 50km south west of Mizen Head to redeploy the sophisticated M3 buoy. The device is designed to better handle the extreme wave and wind conditions experienced off the south west coast, said Sheena Fennell, a scientific technical officer with the institute, who oversaw the operation.

“Its new moorings, which include a specialised rope, now have a 35-ton breaking strain limit,” she said.

Technicians were running systems checks on the 2m-wide, two tonne device last night in the hope that it will begin transmitting data later today.

The M3 buoy has broken free from its moorings twice before.

The most recent incident occurred during severe weather last December.

The buoy recorded record wave heights just before it ceased transmitting data on Dec 10.

On Jan 3, the buoy’s Argos system began reporting positional information from Woolacombe Beach in North Devon.

A Marine Institute technician travelled to Devon to assess the damage but it was decided to redeploy a completely new device.

The M3 buoy broke loose in Sept 2011, again in bad weather.

But it was recovered by the Bere Island tug Ocean Bank, operated by Sean Harrington.

The replacement M3 buoy was placed on the Ocean Bank again yesterday and was shipped out to its position. Mr Harrington said the operation went smoothly.

“The M3 buoy is a great aid to mariners. It gives us a detailed and accurate idea of sea and weather conditions.”

The M3 buoy is part of a network of five such devices established in 2000.

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