Moored oceanographic buoys, instruments, and their data are valuable.

How do you increase the chances you’ll get them back from the ocean?

Collecting data from the ocean helps fill in gaps in how the environment works. Data collection may also be another step forward in a much larger infrastructure or energy project. But the excitement of starting something new can quickly turn into stress. There’s stress because you want to ensure you get your mooring and the data back from the ocean. After all, there’s a lot at stake – instruments, equipment, and staff and ship time to mobilize moorings are expensive. Oceanographic moorings must withstand the forces of wind, waves, and currents. But how moorings interact with these environmental effects is not always straightforward.

There are ways to calculate the loads and deflections in moorings. But the loads and deflections all depend on the layout and components in the mooring. Mooring design needs a lot of attention to detail in establishing the right mooring length, the size, number, and placement of floats, and getting sensors to target instrument depths in the water. The mooring design process can leave you going around and around a design spiral as you make a lot of adjustments.

What’s needed is purpose-built oceanographic mooring design tools

This software needs to make adding, adjusting, and moving mooring components around in a design easy to do. It needs to calculate the dynamics of moorings in a marine environment so you can get a picture of what your mooring will do in wind, current, and waves. Getting this picture builds confidence that you’ll get your mooring and its data back.

The Oceanographic toolset brings purpose-built oceanographic mooring design tools to ProteusDS

The provided software tools are used at all stages of mooring design – from the first sketches to organizing construction at deployment. Systematically build and adjust moorings and test them virtually in wind, waves, and currents to check the deflection and component strength.

Features and benefits

Access a huge library of commercial parts. It’s time-consuming to find data on mooring components online or from suppliers. The Official Parts Library is populated with data on real components used in oceanographic moorings. Use the Official Parts Library to get a mooring design set up quickly.

Quickly set up and adjust a complete mooring design. A mooring doesn’t fall out of your head right onto paper in one go. There’s a lot of adjusting and modification as you find a solution. The Designer program makes it easy to insert new components and adjust their position on the mooring line.

Dial-in instrument position with an instant depth estimate. The mooring layout changes rapidly in the early stages of design. A rapid calculation of component depth makes the early-stage design phase extremely fast. The Designer reports estimated component depth instantly as the mooring changes.

Automatically create a Bill of Materials to source parts. When the mooring design is done, you need a shopping list – a Bill of Materials – to source parts. But going over every component in the mooring and tallying up all the numbers and line lengths is a time-consuming and mind-numbing task. With one click in ProteusDS Oceanographic Designer, you have a spreadsheet Bill of Materials based on the parts you’ve included for your project ready to go.

Rapid static deflection check in ocean currents. Large mooring deflections mean poor data quality. ProteusDS uses a rapid static calculation to show mooring deflection ocean currents. Once you know the mooring excursion and knockdown, you can quickly adjust the mooring if needed and check the new result.

Dynamic check in wind and waves. Moorings exposed to waves have complex dynamic loads. But these loads are predictable. ProteusDS uses a versatile calculation technique to show the mooring deflection and loads from ocean waves. Adjust mooring compliance or component strength so it survives extreme storm conditions.

Learn with publicly available mooring designs. Without much experience, it can be hard to find the right place to start. Use publicly available mooring designs on our website to learn how moorings are put together. Adapt these designs to accelerate design for your own project.

Use trusted software. ProteusDS is used by oceanographic and metocean organizations around the world like CSIRO, WHOI, Scripps, JAMSTEC, AIMS, DFO, and more.

Design and collaborate immediately with free features. Collaboration slows down when we don’t use the same software tools. Create and share detailed mooring designs with free functionality in ProtesuDS Oceanographic Designer.

Where does the anchor land

when there’s a current profile?

Deploying moorings in a significant current profile can result in significant lateral loads. Anchors can drift hundreds of meters off the target location from the ocean current drag on the entire mooring during the transient deployment. Use ProteusDS to simulate the entire anchor-last deployment process to see where anchor (A) and top buoy (B) end up.

Dig in to all aspects of mooring design with ProteusDS

  • Duplicate components to speed up mooring design layout
  • Rapidly adjust mooring length for different water depths
  • Avoid stutter-step design by using the Official Parts Library
  • Create your own parts libraries
  • Set up a geometric compliant mooring design
  • Set up an elastic compliant mooring design
  • Check mooring loads during anchor-last deployment
  • Automatically adjust float buoyancy when attaching heavy instruments
  • Validate mooring deflections yourself with publicly available mooring design project files and experimental measurements
  • Use software trusted by international oceanographic organizations like WHOI, Scripps, JAMSTEC, AIMS, CSIRO, DFO BIO and more
  • Reach out for help with questions and feedback on the software from DSA Ocean’s ocean engineers

Go far.

Go together.

DSA Ocean is an open and collaborative organization. There are government, university, and industrial research organizations all over the world that we work with. We actively research new techniques to use in our hydrodynamic models. Through these collaborations, we all learn together how to solve new problems.
Picture credit: CSIRO / MNF


Jeff Sevadjian, Applications Programmer

Scripps Institution of Oceanography, CA, USA

“Over a series of trial deployments, we looked at measured tensions from a load cell, and pressure data from sensors along the wire, to values output by ProteusDS, and these compared very favorably.”

Our Ocean Time Series group at Scripps Institution of Oceanography developed a deep-water, reverse-catenary mooring that combines a Wirewalker wave-actuated profiler in the upper 500 m and a half-dozen fixed-depth instruments with inductive communications down to full-ocean depth (4500 m). These moorings needed to continuously collect and transmit realtime data for > 3 months under harsh ocean conditions (Hs > 6 m, surface currents up to 1.1 m/s).

We used ProteusDS to investigate potential problems like snap-loading at various locations along the mooring wire, and mooring knockdown and possible submergence of the surface buoy. The software made it intuitive to set up, and then iteratively test different designs based on the output from static and dynamic simulations, identifying and drilling-down on specific problem areas.

Over a series of trial deployments, we looked at measured tensions from a load cell, and pressure data from sensors along the wire, to values output by ProteusDS, and these compared very favorably. Throughout the development cycle, the technical support team was quick to respond and extremely knowledgeable. ProteusDS helped us to arrive at the design which led to a successful execution of the project.

Andreia Queima, Ocean Engineer

Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS), HI, USA

“I could start using ProteusDS right away in practical oceanographic mooring applications without having to spend a lot of time learning.”
I tried to do some mooring modelling before with other software, but the first thing I had to do was run a hydrodynamic model to get the 6 degree of freedom buoy response. I didn’t have time for that. The ProteusDS parts library includes a Datawell Waverider buoy that I work with. It’s very easy and straightforward to set up a dynamic model with waves and currents.

I am improving my mooring designs and making changes with confidence since I can model the new elements. Now I know exactly how much the anchor needs to weigh for each mooring location. That prevents under-designing at very energetic locations where the anchor could be dragged and fall down a steep slope. It also prevents over-designing for locations where bigger boats are not available. I can analyze the mooring layout in reversing currents and try to reduce entanglement.

ProtuesDS is very user friendly and can be used as a tool by people that are building moorings and putting them in the water. It makes mooring design accessible to people in the field other than hydrodynamic modellers. I could start using ProteusDS right away in practical oceanographic mooring applications without having to spend a lot of time learning.

Rafael Ramos, Senior Oceanographer

Woods Hole Group, TX, USA

…some of our mooring optimization analyses in WHOI Cable were getting just too lengthy…”
We were long time users of WHOI Cable and felt comfortable with it after a thorough validation of our modeling approach and element property considerations. We dealt with some of the limitations of WHOI Cable by creating support routines that allowed a combination of partial results. However, some features, such as the dynamic analysis, were always time-consuming because the software is extremely sensitive to the model setup and fine-tuning was a trial and error exercise on input parameters. We transitioned into ProteusDS when some of our mooring optimization analyses in WHOI Cable were getting just too lengthy.

ProteusDS is a much more modern tool with very convenient built-in options that provide analysis flexibility. The ability to start a dynamic mooring analysis from the static position to shorten the overall execution time has proven very valuable. In addition, we have been able to perform the design of some appurtenances that would not have been possible with WHOI Cable. We still need to develop some support routines to access and process the results provided by ProteusDS for some specialized analysis, but the process got a lot easier because of the always timely assistance of the ProteusDS support team from DSA Ocean.

Kristian Curran, Head of Ocean Engineering and Technology Section

DFO Bedford Institute of Oceanography, NS, Canada

ProteusDS provides our team with certainty and confidence.”
ProteusDS provides our team certainty and confidence in the modelling and design of our many ocean-going moorings located from the Bay of Fundy to Barrow Strait in the Arctic. The success of our field team at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography is attributed to the many private sector ocean technology vendors we rely on from Canada and around the world, including ProteusDS, to provide us the equipment we need to succeed.

Carlos Sousa, Research Assistant

CCMAR, Portugal

It is a great tool that significantly facilitates the process of mooring design and components selection.

Don Peters, Principal Engineer

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, MA, USA


“We were using a consultant to perform all our mooring analysis, which was convenient and gave us good results – but I had a desire to get ‘hands on’ and do it myself.”

I wanted to evaluate the available tools out there (both free and commercial) and purchase what I found to be the best fit. I’m a mechanical engineer and not a numerical modeller and so I’d always shied away from WHOI Cable, which is available to everyone for free, but not really an option for me due to the steep learning curve and various versions in use by different groups.

I found ProteusDS to be easy to pick up, and before long I was making use of it and getting valuable results and insight into our designs. The thing that struck me most was the mature and logical user interface. The structured, modular nature of the input and output file sets, the always-present context-sensitive help, and the solid post-processing tools helped me understand how the tool was working and made it easier to learn and use.

By far the responsiveness of DSA Ocean to the feedback from WHOI staff has really made a difference. DSA Ocean has made great additions to the software since we first started using it, and in a few cases where we’ve uncovered an issue, they’ve worked to resolve it.

I do a lot of specialty moorings, and the ability to use ProteusDS to model these allows me to understand how the designs will work and make informed improvements and optimizations. I’ve become quite adept at using the software and having it as a tool in my toolkit has really enhanced my professional capabilities.

I certainly recommend ProteusDS.  I think it’s a great balance of capability and affordability compared to some of the other commercial tools out there. This combined with the responsiveness of the DSA team makes it a win.

But I already work with free and open-source software to design my moorings

How do you train new staff to use these tools? How does your team get answers if you are unavailable? Without funded staff in support, using free and open-source tools means you will spend a lot of your time finding and fixing outstanding bugs on your own. This adds a lot of time around using the software and building familiarity with limitations. This time turns into real costs through staff salaries and delays in delivering projects if you aren’t ready. The development of new features and functionality is also uncertain. And if a new version is released, merging it with your own custom changes can introduce a whole new headache for you to sort out.

I made my own spreadsheet that I use for designing moorings I am comfortable with

One problem with spreadsheets is that they don’t scale well with more complex moorings. It always takes a longer to re-arranging a mooring design compared to purpose-built software. If you use linked formulas, you have to constantly check they are working properly after copying and pasting data around. If an equation is off, your mooring design might be off too, and your mooring is at risk. Mooring design is much faster and less error-prone in well-tested purpose-built software tools.

ProteusDS Oceanographic toolset


Overview of how ProteusDS and the Oceanographic toolset helps the mooring design process

What’s inside?

Use ProteusDS Oceanographic Designer to rapidly assemble detailed mooring designs. The integrated Official Parts Library gives you a large pool of commercial components to work with. Fine-tune instrument placement using feedback from component estimated depth.

ProteusDS Oceanographic Designer automatically generates useful documentation on your mooring design. Save time by automatically generating the Bill of Materials, Assembly Layout and a schematic in Mooring Diagram View based on your layout in Designer.

Calculate mooring loads and deflection in currents and waves. Visualize the dynamic mooring response with PostPDS. Mooring motion and loads are computed in wind, waves, and currents so you know what to expect in the most extreme circumstances.

Free Community Software

To support the community of oceanographic mooring designers, we have many features in ProteusDS users available for free. Many free Community features that help with mooring design are accessible through ProteusDS Oceanographic Designer.




Extensitve Official Parts Library

Integrated parts library editor

Bill of Materials (BOM) export

Assembly List export

Mooring diagram view

Mooring deflection in current and waves

Visualization of mooring motion at sea

Flexible software use on multiple computers






How long does it take to design a mooring?

The simplest subsurface moorings may take 15 minutes. The more complex the mooring, the longer it takes. The more severe and varied wind, current, and wave conditions, the longer it takes, too.

Do you offer software training?

Yes, and you have several choices. Use free online and video tutorials combined with live webmeetings to learn elements of the software. Work with DSA Ocean engineers through paid support options to accelerate learning and completing a project.

Do you have components from _____ manufacturer?

The Official Parts Library is publicly available and lists components by the manufacturer. We are always adding more. Please send suggestions in to any time!

Do I need an engineering degree to use this software?

Basic mooring design is possible with a technical background and practical marine experience. For more complex designs and unique applications, it helps to have an engineering background when you need to get into the details.

How do I get help on using the software?

Check out our variety of online and video tutorials here and here. Contact us for questions on software usage at If you need help with a specific design project, we can create a quote for paid training or consulting services to help you on your way.

Get a free demo to evaluate moorings in wind, waves, and currents

Apply 7 day fully functional demo of the paid version of ProteusDS. You can use this to learn the software and evaluate how it works to compute the mooring response in wind, waves, and currents.

Request a demo

What’s different about


When you are lost, a GPS is worth a lot to get you back on track. If you are working alone on a mooring design, it’s easy to feel lost. You can feel lost if you are working with a new mooring design you don’t have experience with. Or you can feel uncertain if you are facing an exposed mooring location with extreme environmental conditions like high speed ocean currents or waves.

When you are working with ProteusDS, you always have someone to ask for ideas and help. We work with mooring designers around the world and are experts in working with our software. If you are feeling lost, we are here to help give you ideas and find a way to take the next step in your design process.

Request ProteusDS pricing