TECHNICAL wizardry has given a sneak preview of an ambitious offshore event at the weekend.
Ships taking part in the ground-breaking Foghorn Requiem have received a helping hand from marine experts at South Tyneside College.
As many as 70 vessels, from ferries to fishing boats, are expected to position themselves off the coast at Souter Lighthouse, Whitburn, on Saturday, to sound their horns in time to a musical score performed on-shore by three brass bands and the lighthouse’s foghorn.
Thanks to a state-of-the-art simulator created by the college’s marine school, it has been possible for the artists to visualise what the flotilla will actually look like from both land and sea.
Artists Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway, who originated the event, have worked closely with the college, using the simulator’s 3D images of the coast to pinpoint the best possible positions for all participating vessels. The DFDS Princess Seaways ferry will be positioned furthest offshore. She will be contributing the bass notes of her two horns, as well as the sounds from additional horns placed on board, so her positioning is key to the overall sound of the Foghorn Requiem, which will be listened to by thousands of spectators lining the coastline.
After a special visit to the simulator, DFDS Captain Thomas Stephensen, said: “It gives an incredibly realistic view and portrayal of what it is like to be on a vessel’s bridge in various simulated situations and it’s given me a really clear idea of what to expect on the day – we’re delighted to be involved and can’t wait to take part.”
Also among the vessels taking part in the event will be a Tyne tug boat from Hebburn-based Svitzer Marine, which will be carrying a number of ships’ horns integral to the project.
Svitzer Port Captain Steve Carr said: “It’s been fascinating to find out just how much technical preparation has gone into this event – we’re all really excited to be taking part.”
Paul Hodgson, technical and projects manager at the college, said: “Our team of master mariners has had to take into account safety scenarios, such as which vessels need to be anchored, how far apart they should be, different possible sea conditions, the depth of water at various locations and radio communications.
“However, the work we have done with Lise Autogena shows how adaptable the simulator and its technology are. This is one of our most memorable projects and it has become of very real personal interest to us – we are really looking forward to the event.”
Foghorn Requiem was commissioned by South Tyneside Council and the National Trust and has received funding from Arts Council England, Danish Arts Council and the Festival of the North East.
The vessels are expected to take their positions at around 11am in advance of the performance, which will begin at 12.30pm and last for about 50 minutes.
n For more information, visit www.foghornrequiem.org