A sustainable model for optimal dynamic allocation of patrol tugs to oil tankers
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Oil tanker traffic constitutes a vital part of the maritime operations in the High North and is associated with considerable risk to the environment. As a consequence, the Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA) administers a number of vessel traffic services (VTS) centers along the Norwegian coast, one of which is located in the town of Vardø, in the extreme northeast part of Norway. The task of the operators at the VTS center in Vardø is to command a fleet of tug vessels patrolling the northern Norwegian coastline such that the risk of oil tanker drifting accidents is reduced. Currently, these operators do not use computer algorithms or mathematical models to solve this dynamic resource allocation problem but rely on their own knowledge and experience when faced with constantly changing weather and traffic conditions. We therefore propose a novel sustainable model called the receding horizon mixed integer programming (RHMIP) model for optimal dynamic allocation of patrol vessels to oil tankers. The model combines features from model predictive control and linear programming. Simulations run with real-world parameters highlight the performance and quality of our method. The developed RHMIP model can be implemented as an operational decision support tool to the NCA.