News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, July 22, 2021
Experimental breakwater planned in Castine waters

by Eli Forman

Early next month, the waters off Dyce Head Lighthouse will play host to a research project by the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center.

In August, researchers are planning to install a temporary breakwater prototype that could be rapidly deployed, as needed, to provide protection for floating or shore-based infrastructure before an oncoming storm. The project aims to test the efficacy of the breakwater’s design in an actual ocean setting.

The device will be anchored 1,345 feet off Dyce Head and accompanied by several buoys equipped with sensors to measure wave height and speed.

The device is composed of a “six-assembly array of porous screens made of PVC sheets,” according to the center’s research description. The screens will have a 15-foot draft and will be 16 feet tall overall. Weekly monitoring and post-storm assessments will be conducted by Maine Maritime Academy. If the device begins to deteriorate and is found to be dangerous to boaters, it will be reported to the Coast Guard and immediately removed, according to the center. All material is expected to be removed and the project considered complete by the first of December 2021.

The experimental breakwater is part of the University of Maine’s ongoing research into offshore wind infrastructure, which has the potential to become a major industry in Maine. According to the center, these types of breakwater designs can be quickly set up around floating turbines to protect them from storm damage and removed afterwards to keep environmental impacts at a minimum.

Over the past few years, Castine has had a front row seat to cutting-edge research. In 2013 and 2014, the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center tested VolturnUS, the first grid-connected floating wind turbine deployed in the western hemisphere, according to a document from the center.