3
Enhancing Navigation Safety Information Systems

The principal opportunities for improving maritime information systems involve existing or emerging technologies that promote navigation safety. A basic understanding of trends and needs in this area is necessary for clarifying policy and funding issues, this chapter examines information systems that promote overall port and waterways safety, including the safety of navigation and vessel transits through harbors.

Safety systems for general navigation are the basic tools used by mariners to fix vessel position, obtain information about the physical environment and operating conditions, and communicate with other vessels and shore-based personnel. These "foundation" systems also include databases used for safety-related policy making and decision making. Foundation systems include the global positioning system (GPS) and differential GPS (DGPS),1 other navigational aids, hydrographic data, nautical charts, port-specific and general information about waterways, and data on tides and currents. Shore-based components and systems are generally designed, funded, and operated by federal agencies for the benefit of all mariners. However, onboard equipment must be purchased and operated by the users. Thus, national or international standards and requirements may be necessary to ensure that systems function effectively. The effective application of technology also requires that users have a minimum level of training.

The next section is a brief discussion of the role of technology in waterways management, which relies heavily on people and rules. The remainder of the chapter describes four key technology suites that could be improved or more widely deployed: NOAA's plans for updated hydrographic surveys and nautical charts; the current status of PORTS; prospects for AIS2; and a new perspective on VTS systems.

Waterways Management

Technology alone cannot guarantee maritime safety. People, working according to rules governing safe vessel transits, are necessary to any effective waterways management system. Information is useless unless it gets to the right people at the right time. Vessel safety is influenced by a great many individuals: the master and crew, who are ultimately responsible for handling the vessel and who know its capabilities and limitations; system operators, who provide navigation information to vessels; marine pilots, who need accurate and timely information on local harbors or waterways; VTS personnel, who must make decisions based on the conditions and other traffic in the area; local service providers, such as tug masters and shipping agents; and mariners on other vessels in the area. In many foreign harbors, the activities of all of these individuals are coordinated by a central authority. In the United States, this is seldom the case, although marine exchanges or agents sometimes coordinate the flow of some information among the key players.

Recognizing the need for vessel masters and pilots to have continuous access to accurate, real-time information, both the USCG (National Dialog on Vessel Traffic Services, 1997) and INTERTANKO (1996) have recommended that waterways management systems be defined for each U.S. harbor based on continuous input from local harbor safety committees, whose members would include pilots and other frequent users of local waters. The safety committees would make recommendations to the USCG regarding system

1  

The GPS, a military radio navigation system that uses transmissions from satellites, provides accurate and continuous worldwide position fixes in three dimensions. For civilian users, the GPS provides horizontal accuracy to within 100 meters 95 percent of the time. Differential corrections to GPS range measurements are provided by the DGPS, which is currently accurate to within 10 to 15 meters.

2  

Although AIS has only recently become a popular initiative in certain areas in the United States, it has a long history of promotion, development, and testing in the international maritime sector.



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--> 3 Enhancing Navigation Safety Information Systems The principal opportunities for improving maritime information systems involve existing or emerging technologies that promote navigation safety. A basic understanding of trends and needs in this area is necessary for clarifying policy and funding issues, this chapter examines information systems that promote overall port and waterways safety, including the safety of navigation and vessel transits through harbors. Safety systems for general navigation are the basic tools used by mariners to fix vessel position, obtain information about the physical environment and operating conditions, and communicate with other vessels and shore-based personnel. These "foundation" systems also include databases used for safety-related policy making and decision making. Foundation systems include the global positioning system (GPS) and differential GPS (DGPS),1 other navigational aids, hydrographic data, nautical charts, port-specific and general information about waterways, and data on tides and currents. Shore-based components and systems are generally designed, funded, and operated by federal agencies for the benefit of all mariners. However, onboard equipment must be purchased and operated by the users. Thus, national or international standards and requirements may be necessary to ensure that systems function effectively. The effective application of technology also requires that users have a minimum level of training. The next section is a brief discussion of the role of technology in waterways management, which relies heavily on people and rules. The remainder of the chapter describes four key technology suites that could be improved or more widely deployed: NOAA's plans for updated hydrographic surveys and nautical charts; the current status of PORTS; prospects for AIS2; and a new perspective on VTS systems. Waterways Management Technology alone cannot guarantee maritime safety. People, working according to rules governing safe vessel transits, are necessary to any effective waterways management system. Information is useless unless it gets to the right people at the right time. Vessel safety is influenced by a great many individuals: the master and crew, who are ultimately responsible for handling the vessel and who know its capabilities and limitations; system operators, who provide navigation information to vessels; marine pilots, who need accurate and timely information on local harbors or waterways; VTS personnel, who must make decisions based on the conditions and other traffic in the area; local service providers, such as tug masters and shipping agents; and mariners on other vessels in the area. In many foreign harbors, the activities of all of these individuals are coordinated by a central authority. In the United States, this is seldom the case, although marine exchanges or agents sometimes coordinate the flow of some information among the key players. Recognizing the need for vessel masters and pilots to have continuous access to accurate, real-time information, both the USCG (National Dialog on Vessel Traffic Services, 1997) and INTERTANKO (1996) have recommended that waterways management systems be defined for each U.S. harbor based on continuous input from local harbor safety committees, whose members would include pilots and other frequent users of local waters. The safety committees would make recommendations to the USCG regarding system 1   The GPS, a military radio navigation system that uses transmissions from satellites, provides accurate and continuous worldwide position fixes in three dimensions. For civilian users, the GPS provides horizontal accuracy to within 100 meters 95 percent of the time. Differential corrections to GPS range measurements are provided by the DGPS, which is currently accurate to within 10 to 15 meters. 2   Although AIS has only recently become a popular initiative in certain areas in the United States, it has a long history of promotion, development, and testing in the international maritime sector.

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--> elements, such as navigation regulations, anchorage procedures, traffic separation schemes, and improvements in the types and locations of navigation aids. Information needs and flows would be defined according to local needs, but the delivery methods and equipment would adhere to international standards. A regime of appropriate rules, widely followed (and enforced as necessary), would make the operating environment orderly and predictable and is, therefore, a significant safety measure. Considerable documentation supports this thesis, including studies that credit a passive system of rules with significantly reducing traffic accidents in the Port of London (NRC, 1996). Strong anecdotal evidence shows that similar results have been achieved by harbor safety committees in California (Marsh and Richards, 1996). Self-policing can be highly effective, but it requires oversight coupled with the authority and capability to enforce rules. For example, a dramatic improvement was observed in self-policing in Los Angeles-Long Beach once the captain of the port had access to a surveillance system—a VTIS operated by the marine exchange with oversight by the local harbor safety committee (NRC, 1996). Nautical Charting Some progress has been made in updating hydrographic surveys and nautical charts of U.S. waters. Since 1994, approximately 5,000 square nautical miles designated as "critical needs areas" have been surveyed using modern methods (i.e., multibeam depth-sounding equipment that can cover the entire seafloor and DGPS for determining location); another 38,000 square miles judged to be critical need areas remain to be surveyed (NOAA, 1997a, 1997b). About 60 percent of the critical backlog is in Alaska (NOS, 1998). In response to a congressional mandate, NOAA recently finalized a plan for reducing the backlog of requests for hydrographic surveys (NOS, 1998). The plan specifies outsourcing of at least 50 percent of its hydrographic services to private contractors. In the next 5 to 10 years, NOAA plans to contract out most of the data acquisition in the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific coast of the mainland (NOS, 1998). The agency will also operate its own three survey ships, provide quality control, maintain nautical databases, ensure nationwide coverage, provide leadership in setting and meeting international standards, and work with the private sector and other federal agencies to develop new survey technologies. Even so, NOAA estimates that, at fiscal year 1998 annual funding levels, it will take 25 to 30 years to eliminate the existing survey backlog (NOAA, 1997b). NOAA recognizes that maintaining a level of capability and expertise entails more than facilitating contracting efforts. The government must also retain expertise and competency in order to meet its international and other responsibilities. The public nature of these responsibilities cannot be readily transferred to, and are not appropriate for, the private sector (NOS, 1998). In a complementary effort, the NOAA Office of Coast Survey has developed a plan for accelerating nautical chart updates for the busiest commercial ports and trade routes, as determined by the tonnage of goods that moves through them (NOAA, 1997a). Other high-priority areas include some coastal and cruise ship routes that have never been adequately surveyed. If resources continue to be severely limited, charts of lower priority areas will be published less frequently than in the past. The agency's FY 1998 budget will support the production of 360 new chart editions, 30 percent of the charts for U.S. waters (NOAA, 1997a). But many of these "updated" charts will not include new survey information because none is available. NOAA is moving toward the production of IMO-compliant, fully digitized vector charts as rapidly as budgets allow (Lockwood, 1998). The agency plans to release 190 electronic navigation charts by the end of 1999 and will increase the number of electronic navigation charts as resources permit. NOAA will also continue to maintain raster charts and the Raster Chart Notice to Mariners Update Service.3 PORTS and "PORTS Lite" Because PORTS has proven to be effective, users, at least in some areas, have agreed to help pay for its operation. PORTS is a sensor-based system, developed by NOAA, that gives vessels access to real-time data on currents, tides, winds, waves, temperatures, and salinity. The system helps mariners avoid collisions and groundings, assists in planning safe passage, and enables mariners to ascertain the drafts their vessels must maintain when transiting ports and waterways. Nautical charts show only minimum charted channel depths, but mariners need real-time water depths corrected to allow for changes caused by severe weather or abnormal tides. PORTS is operational in Tampa Bay, New York Harbor, San Francisco Bay, and Galveston Bay. Six candidate areas have been identified for future systems (see Figure 3-1). Smaller systems, known as "PORTS Lite," are operational in Nikisiki and Anchorage, Alaska; Seattle and Tacoma, Washington; Baltimore, Maryland, and Hampton Roads, Virginia. All PORTS systems are operated and maintained with local funding; NOAA provides only the initial prototypes and overall quality control. Although this funding approach has enabled ports with active local initiatives to enjoy the benefits of this safety-enhancing system, it does not ensure safety benefits for all vessels that may need PORTS. 3   NOAA plans to continue to rely heavily on raster charts, which were initially created by passing paper charts through a scanner. The features in these raster charts cannot be deleted or manipulated individually. In contrast vector data consist of individual position and attribute information for each feature on the chart.

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--> •PORTS   Existing Potential Houston/Galveston Corpus Christi New York/New Jersey Jacksonville San Francisco Los Angeles/Long Beach Tampa Philadelphia   Providence   Valdez  •PORTS Lite   Existing Potential Anchorage Boston Baltimore Fall River Hampton Roads New haven Nikisiki   Seattle   Tacoma   Figure 3-1 Status of PORTS implementation (October 1998). Source: NOAA.

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--> BOX 3-1 How AIS Works Maritime AIS is similar to the technology used (in conjunction with radar) by air traffic controllers to keep track of aircraft. The basic maritime AIS technology is a ship- board transponder that operates in the VHF maritime band and is capable of sending a variety of vessel information (e.g., identification, position, heading, length, beam, type, draft, and cargo) to other ships and to shore. The receiving stations can display the locations and identity of all transponder-equipped vessels on an electronic chart. Because the data transfer is automatic, there is no need for extensive voice-radio communications—a major benefit because it frees mariners for other duties and reduces what some perceive as the intrusiveness of VTS systems. A complete AIS system consists of a VHF transmitter, a frequency-agile VHF receiver, an accurate positioning system, and a display of ship vector and other information on an electronic chart. (A single vessel that has a complete system on board can both transmit its own signals and receive and display information from other vessels.) Position information is usually derived from DGPS. Operational requirements are for 2,000 reports per minute with updates every two seconds. A functional example of a ship-shore tracking system is the international tug of opportunity system (ITOS), which is designed to prevent drift groundings of disabled vessels in the Puget Sound area. The local marine exchange maintains a database of the location and capabilities of local tugboats outfitted with transponders. The tug nearest to a vessel in need can be located within seconds of entering the vessel's location into the ITOS system. The system is entirely funded by industry (SMART Forum, 1997), but visual readouts of the identification, location, course, and speed of each tug are displayed at USCG offices. Automatic Identification Systems Support is growing among U.S. port and waterways users for AIS (see Appendix B, for example), an emerging technology that could have significant safety benefits, is simple to operate, and is compatible with a range of traffic management schemes. One advantage of AIS is that it enables mariners and VTS watchstanders to identify and distinguish specific vessels that otherwise appear as anonymous identical "blips" on a video display or radar screen (see Box 3-1). Another advantage is the low cost of the equipment (relative to many other technologies) carried by participating vessels. Developmental AIS or AIS-like systems have been used in a number of operational systems, including in Prince William Sound, Alaska, and ports in Canada, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. The USCG began an AIS demonstration with 50 vessels in the Lower Mississippi River in 1998. The effectiveness of AIS as a safety measure depends largely on the proportion of vessels that participate and the ability of AIS to function in the ship-to-ship mode. Existing systems are limited to a few specific vessels or a local coverage area or only a ship-to-shore mode. However, many stakeholders support the universal use of AIS (National Dialog on Vessel Traffic Services, 1997). International efforts to upgrade and promote the application of this technology are under way, and the USCG now supports the completion of universal shipborne AIS standards and the establishment of carriage requirements for vessels nationally and internationally as early as July 2002. AIS can be used as a stand-alone system to provide vessel-location and identification data to mariners on the many waterways that do not have shoreside traffic management systems. AIS can also be combined with radar or VTS systems, depending on local needs and choices.4 Universal requirements for the carriage of AIS transponders cannot be implemented until an agreement has been reached on standards and requirements.5 In general, this emerging technology appears to meet the vessel traffic management needs in many situations and will probably be adopted more widely 4   The various technological tools available for, and used in, VTS installations are discussed in the committee's interim report (NRC, 1996). For example, radar and closed-circuit television have traditionally been used by traffic managers for surveillance of congested waterways and do not require that vessels carry special equipment. Newer technologies, such as AIS, would provide more precise vessel identification and position information but would require that vessels carry transponders. 5   A performance standard describing the operational requirements for shipboard AIS transponders was adopted by the IMO Maritime Safety Committee in May 1998. (The final standard is expected to be available soon on the IMO Web site, http://www.imo.org). The standard is based on a recommendation made in 1996 by the International Association of Lighthouse Authorities (IALA), which has been the primary organization sponsoring and coordinating the development of AIS. In 1997, at the request of the United States and other countries, IALA hosted a working group of AIS manufacturers and administrators to decide on a standard technology for AIS transponders that meets the IMO performance standard. The working group's recommendation was submitted to the International Telecommunications Union, which is now defining the telecommunications protocol for AIS.

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--> in the next several years. However, some technical problems, such as the allocation of standard worldwide radio frequencies for AIS operation, must still be resolved. The United States will not be able to dedicate either wideband or narrowband VHF channels to AIS anytime soon, although it should be able to designate an available channel locally for AIS purposes. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has been asked to develop a nationwide AIS frequency plan based on the results of a forthcoming decision by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).6 New Perspective on Vessel Traffic Services Systems The most contentious debates about public and private roles in navigation information systems have centered around the funding and operation of VTS systems. The USCG has established and operates eight VTS systems. The information generated by these systems, and their traffic management, also benefit commercial interests at the affected ports (NRC, 1996). However, the commercial benefits have probably not been maximized because much of the data cannot be accessed easily by all potential users. Because both private interests and the public benefit from VTS systems, questions have been raised about who should design and operate these systems and whether the costs should be borne by the federal government alone or should be shared by system users. Proposals for user fees have sparked controversies about overall system costs and capabilities. If users are asked to pay, then they want maximum utility from the VTS information at the lowest possible cost. The USCG's plans to install VTS systems in as many as 17 ports were canceled in late 1996 when Congress eliminated funding for the procurement program, which was criticized by some as overly expensive and not suitable for all local port communities (U.S. House of Representatives, 1996). Various means of reconciling these conflicting concerns have been suggested. One solution is public-private partnerships, exemplified by the Los Angeles-Long Beach (LA/LB) VTIS, where users cover the costs of operation, and the USCG uses the system to carry out its responsibilities. To ensure that authority is properly exercised, USCG personnel are assigned as watchstanders. The cost of their services is currently borne by users, but the USCG is seeking federal funds to pay for its watchstanders. The LA/LB VTIS is the model for partnerships being developed in the San Francisco Bay region (involving federal, state, and private entities) and the Port of San Diego (involving the U.S. Navy and the port). Box 3-2 describes the partnership evolving in San Francisco. The overall approach to vessel traffic management is still evolving. The Port and Waterway Safety System (PAWSS) project, which is being developed by the USCG with input from the national dialog group, is currently building a VTS system in New Orleans and other locations (see Figure 3-2), and locations for new VTS systems will be selected using a process based on risk analyses. The PAWSS approach envisions traffic management as a five-stage hierarchy, with traditional aids to navigation providing the most basic safety baseline. At the next level, which provides additional security and controls, is vessel-to-vessel AIS. The third level is enhanced AIS, which includes additional shore-based sources of information. The fourth level is VTIS. The top level is full VTS (24-hour-a-day shore-based surveillance and advisory activity under the direct authority of the USCG). In the meantime, the private sector has often stepped in where no formal VTS systems exist. A few VTS-like systems are operated by pilots, some of whom carry laptop computers that combine electronic charts with satellite positioning systems. Although these private systems are narrower in scope than USCG-operated VTS systems, the laptop devices offer several important benefits, including independence of shipboard equipment, training focused on a single device, and growing confidence with ongoing use of the same equipment (NRC, 1996). (These benefits may be outweighed by the tendency to exclude the master and bridge management team from the navigational process, which could encourage reliance on separate systems.) Growing confidence in and increasing use of DGPS systems might allow more vessels to be moved under a wider range of conditions, but only if system limitations are known and users have been adequately trained. The previous report of this committee (NRC, 1996), called for the definition of a "generic, baseline system" in response to the USCG's original plans to use a single systems integration contractor for all new VTS systems. Those plans were canceled, however, and the USCG and the maritime community have adopted a cooperative approach to defining specific user needs and the most effective roles of key stakeholders. It has now become apparent to stakeholders—and to this committee—that the process of identifying ports and waterways that require VTS systems, and determining their capabilities, will be more complex than was originally recognized. The basis for the original plans, the cost-benefit analysis in the Port Needs Study (Maio et al., 1991), focused only on preventing and avoiding oil spills, whereas the current selection and design criteria have many more dimensions. Most stakeholders now believe that a comprehensive approach to maritime safety should extend far beyond VTS systems. 6   The 1997 World Radio Conference designated two worldwide channels for AIS, channels 87B and 88B. In the United States, channel 87B is used for "public correspondence" coast stations, and channel 88B is a federal land mobile frequency designated for use by all government agencies. The conference decided to remove public correspondence designations from both channels 87B and 88B. In August 1997, the USCG petitioned the FCC for two duplex channels from the VHF maritime band for the AIS transponder. The FCC incorporated the USCG petition as a comment in PR Docket 92-257.

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--> BOX 3-2 Information Systems and Partners in San Francisco Bay The San Francisco Bay region features a VTS system, PORTS, laptop navigation and identification units carried by pilots, a cooperative marine information service, NOAA's prototype electronic charts, and a variety of ongoing waterways management experiments. The benefits of these systems are being maximized through the cooperative efforts of many entities, including five federal agencies,* the state Office of Oil Spill Prevention and Response and the Department of Boating and Waterways, and private sector organizations, such as the San Francisco Marine Exchange, marine pilots, and tug and ferry operators. One of the notable aspects of this partnership is that federally funded research and development projects were expanded to fill the urgent needs of other levels of government and the private sector. The goal of the evolving partnership is to provide mariners with timely, accurate information about hydrographic and meteorological conditions in San Francisco Bay, together with near real-time information about vessel traffic and harbor construction and dredging projects. This comprehensive information will be distributed The Marine Exchange will serve as the information "hub." To facilitate the flow of information, it could be co-located with the VTS Vessel Traffic Center (VTC), which would have to be modified to accommodate both operations. VTC equipment would have to be adapted to display information generated by AIS on vessel movements. Transponders have been installed in tugs and ferries operating in the bay, and pilots will carry portable AIS units when on board deep-draft ships. The use of AIS in the total system could allow the USCG to reduce its staffing, which would free personnel for transfer to other duties. The Marine Exchange currently provides a Web site with PORTS data and other, more general information. The Bay Area VTC image will be added to the Web site and updated frequently using data available from AIS and the VTS. The two California state agencies will fund the operation, as well as maintenance of the PORTS system, for two years and will contribute funds to the AIS program. Responsible parties plan to seek legislative authorization to implement user fees to support long-term operations of the overall information system, including PORTS. A project known as SmartBridge sponsored the development of an integrated VTS and intelligent pilot carry-aboard system that was installed at the VTS for evaluation during 1997-1998. through AIS and the Internet. *   In addition to the USCG and NOAA, the U.S. Geological Survey is using PORTS data in hydrodynamic models; a MARAD grant was used to test the portable pilot units; and USACE is working with NOAA on experiments to detect variations in ship drafts in real-time using DGPS (Marsh and Richards, 1996). Elements of VTS Based on new information and perspectives since the interim report, the committee has identified five factors that should be considered in decisions regarding the establishment of VTS systems: (1) the conditions requiring vessel traffic management and the role of VTS in ameliorating them; (2) funding mechanisms for VTS installations and operations; (3) the operating government agency or private entity; (4) the extent of the services; and (5) the selection of technologies. Other factors, which have been identified elsewhere, should also be taken into account (National Dialog on Vessel Traffic Services, 1997). First, many waterways do not require a VTS to achieve an appropriate level of safety. VTS is only one of many factors involved in maritime safety, and other systems may be more critical to safety in a particular waterway. Representatives of a wide range of port communities have noted that assigning proper priorities is critical. Second, VTS is not a synonym for "high technology," although it does require technological tools to perform its intended functions. VTS is a systematic regime for managing a waterway. In the committee's judgment, overemphasis of VTS technology could overshadow the consideration of other management tools. Third, VTS is not a new concept. It is a proven, internationally accepted tool that enhances vessel safety, promotes the efficient movement of vessel traffic, and helps protect the environment. Until the 1990s, the United States had held back from the conceptual development and application of VTS. A positive consequence of this delay is that the United States can now benefit from VTS developments by European nations and others. Redefining the Federal Role in VTS The new perspective on VTS requires that the federal role be redefined, based in part on evolving international standards. The IMO is in the late stages of incorporating VTS capabilities, requirements, and operations into a regime of internationally accepted standards. To date, the IMO has

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--> Figure 3-2 PWASS project concept—VTS system based on automatic identification system (AIS). established Guidelines for Vessel Traffic Services7 and Guidelines for the Recruitment, Qualifications and Training of Vessel Traffic Service Operators.8 It has also defined VTS as "a service implemented by a competent authority, designed to improve safety and efficiency of vessel traffic and to protect the environment. The service has the capability to interact with the traffic and respond to traffic situations developing in the VTS area."9 In the committee's judgment, based on interactions with stakeholders, a significant percentage of the U.S. maritime community has no personal experience with VTS because they do not exist in many U.S. ports. Consequently, many U.S. mariners do not fully understand the role of a VTS and two elements of the IMO definition are sometimes misinterpreted. Competent authority has been defined as "the authority made responsible, in whole or in part, by the Government for the safety, including environmental safety, and efficiency of vessel traffic and the protection of the environment."10 The phrase "interact with traffic and respond to traffic situations" is interpreted by the IMO to mean the ability of a VTS to recognize, analyze, and intervene in a situation that might otherwise lead to an accident, and, through its intervention, prevent incidents from developing into accidents. Comprehensive guidelines for establishing and operating VTS are included in a manual published by the International Association of Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) (1993). The IALA membership consists of government agencies from many countries responsible for aids to navigation, including VTS. The manual, therefore, represents an international consensus, which, in the absence of binding international conventions, has become a de facto standard. The IMO is expected to seek greater standardization for VTS and related activities, and operator qualifications will undoubtedly be 7   IMO Resolution A.857(20), adopted November 27, 1997. 8   IMO Resolution A.857(20), adopted November 27, 1997. 9   As adopted by the Subcommittee on Safety of Navigation, 39th Session of the IMO, London, November 27, 1997. 10   Annex 20 to MSC67/22, Guidelines for Vessel Traffic Services.

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--> added to the International Convention on Standards for Training, Certification and Watchstanding, 1978. Other aspects of VTS requirements will be brought within the framework of the International Convention on the Safety of Life at Sea. Federal Government as Competent Authority The committee considers the federal role in VTS as having two dimensions. The first is to serve as competent authority and fulfill the associated duties and responsibilities. The second is to provide vessel traffic management—and funding—in areas where the national interest would be served by VTS. Although arguments can be made for individual states assuming the role of competent authority for VTS systems that operate wholly within their waters, maritime safety is best served in a consistent operating environment among ports and among nations. Consistency can be maintained only if standards, operator qualifications, and procedures are uniform, nationally and internationally. Most VTS areas of responsibility extend beyond state waters to ensure that vessels are entered into the system before they reach congested port approaches. For these reasons, the role of "competent authority" should be reserved for the federal government and should be carried out exclusively by the USCG, the nation's primary maritime safety organization. The role of the competent authority is primarily to establish standards for VTS operations, including the training and certification of operators and monitoring to ensure that standards are met. This role should be extended to the development of a process for formally authorizing nonfederal VTIS systems to ensure that they have adequate support infrastructures. Establishing VTS to Serve the National Interest From a national perspective, the committee identified four possible reasons for establishing a VTS to serve the national interest. First, the USCG may determine that a VTS is necessary in a port for the fulfillment of its responsibilities for maritime safety as articulated in the Ports and Waterways Safety Act (P.L. 95-474). This determination would be likely, for example, for a port or waterway where a maritime accident might result in a "spill of national significance."11 Second, a formal traffic management capability may be required for reasons of national security, including conducting naval operations and logistics support for major military deployments, or to fulfill USCG mission requirements. A port that is home to a large number of Navy ships operating on a cycle that causes peaks of congestion might develop problems related to safety or affect the movement of commercial vessels. Third, a formal traffic management capability may be required for national economic reasons. The committee identified two representative situations. Ports that are critical to the transport of heating fuel could, in the winter, be considered essential to the public welfare. Ports that serve as hubs for container shipments could be critical to the economy. Fourth, traffic management requirements of an international waterway could necessitate the participation of more than one nation. An example is the Strait of Juan de Fuca, where traffic is co-managed by the United States and Canada. If a port or waterway meets one or more of these criteria, a VTS system could be justified, and installation and operation of the system could be considered the responsibility of the federal government.12 The USCG has begun a process (see Figure 3-3) of evaluating risks at individual ports to determine their safety needs. A five-tier hierarchy of safety enhancements has also been developed, with a full VTS system as the top tier (see Figure 3-4). The process is a combination of a risk assessment, a cost-benefit analysis, and consultations with stakeholders, including selected agencies of the departments of Transportation, Commerce, and Defense. Planners would also do well to involve port authorities, vessel operators, pilot organizations, and other port-related entities that would be affected by changes in the traffic management regime. As part of the process, the USCG could conduct analyses to identify the ports that warrant federal vessel traffic management based on national economic importance. The USCG could use NOAA's identification of priority areas for surveys and charting as a basis for some analyses. The U.S. Department of Defense could also be asked to identify areas where defense considerations require traffic management capabilities. To obtain the greatest benefit from limited funds, the analyses should be appropriate to the situation. Where simple, inexpensive systems can be implemented, only simple analyses are necessary to justify them. To ensure that the process is consistent and fair, a standard set of questions could be used to determine the requirements for VTS. For example, the following questions were developed by the National Dialog on Vessel Traffic Services (1997): What existing local navigational management systems are in place and how effective are they? What are the existing or likely future conditions in the 11   Commandant Instruction 16465.1, Spills of National Significance Response Management System, summarizes the factors for determining if a spill has national significance. The factors include the extent of the potentially affected area; the probable impact on public health and welfare and the economy; the period of time over which the pollutant would be discharged or that would be required for cleanup; the level of public concern; and the level of political and public interest. 12   Whether the systems were funded from general revenues or user fees would, according to the current approach, depend on their safety functions as compared to improvements in efficiency.

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--> Figure 3-3 U.S. Coast Guard risk-based port selection process. Figure 3-4 Vessel traffic management hierarchy. port with respect to traffic density, traffic patterns, and complexity of traffic or vessel movements? What are the sizes, types, and numbers of vessels operating in the port area? What is the history (including the causes) of accidents, casualties, pollution incidents, and other vessel safety problems within the port area? What are the physical limitations of the port? What types and amounts of hazardous or environmentally sensitive cargoes are transported within the port? What are the prevailing conditions and extremes of weather and oceanography in the port? What are the environmental, safety, and economic consequences of having or not having a VTS within a given port? The dialog group did not consider USCG missions, such as national security and law enforcement, which should also be included.

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--> Nonfederal VTIS In some areas, a federal VTS may not be warranted but regional or local interests would support a traffic management scheme. The legislature of the state of California, for example, has identified waterways for which environmental protection is a matter of significant state interest.13 Some of these waterways were not even evaluated in the Port Needs Study and hence were not identified as being of national significance. When considering the establishment of a VTIS, the issues to be considered include: whether or not a system is really necessary; who would pay for its installation; who would operate it; and who would be liable if the VTS contributed to an accident. The need for the system can be determined by state or local governments (such as port authorities) or the user community; the USCG, the competent authority, should participate in the process. The USCG would determine if national interests, including support for its own missions, would be served by federal involvement in the establishment or operation of the system, and, if so, to what extent. Defining a Baseline System In its interim report, the committee recommended that the Coast Guard select ports with the greatest safety needs for VTS and define a minimum generic baseline system that would meet national safety needs as well as Coast Guard mission requirements. The committee's description of a "generic, baseline system" can now be modified in terms of its updated perspective on VTS. The tools needed to provide VTS capabilities will vary from place to place depending on waterway shape and dimensions, vessel traffic patterns, and other considerations. The capabilities, however, will be generally the same for all waterways. It can be argued that national safety needs are subsumed within the statutory responsibilities of each captain of the port (COTP) for ensuring vessel safety, waterways management, and environmental protection. It follows, then, that the national VTS baseline for federal systems can be defined in terms of the capabilities required by COTPs to discharge their statutory responsibilities. In some cases, a VTS may be justified based on the USCG's mission and not directly related to commercial vessel safety (e.g., law enforcement or national security). The catalog of capabilities can be used to select the technological tools appropriate for each port on a case-by-case basis, giving due consideration to relevant policy issues and costs. A port-by-port definition of system requirements would help minimize costs and maximize the benefits of investments in VTS by tailoring each system to meet the needs of a specific port. Some tools, of course, will be useful for all ports regardless of the complexity of the system or the volume of traffic. Certain communications technologies, for example, will be useful in all areas. As an example of how the necessary tools can be derived from general capabilities, consider the issue of enforcing compliance within a regulated navigation area (RNA). Obviously, the necessary tools will depend on the requirements imposed in the RNA. For example, in Hampton Roads, Virginia, rules have been established for vessel movement and anchorage (33 CFR 165.501). In Tampa Bay, the requirements deal only with communications (33 CFR 165.753). The Hampton Roads RNA may require surveillance, whereas the Tampa Bay RNA may require only monitoring and recording of VHF-FM Channel 13 transmissions. All federal VTS systems must support the full range of USCG mission areas, including search and rescue operations, law enforcement, and maritime defense. If cost-effective enhancements can support these missions without compromising the USCG's primary focus on safety and environmental protection, then the additional capabilities should be provided. It is also appropriate for a traffic service to address the needs of the commercial port community for traffic management and information exchange. The commercial aspects of VTS will undoubtedly vary by port, however, and can best be determined through partnerships between the port community and the USCG. The user community should also be involved in the development of port-specific operating rules and procedures. The California harbor safety committees provide useful models for this process.14 The technical components of a baseline system would be determined on a port-by-port basis. For example, the benefits of AIS may warrant the incorporation of this technology into all future and existing federal VTS systems. The services provided by a VTIS should be tailored to support the needs of the sponsor(s), subject to the approval and oversight of the USCG (the competent authority). Like federal systems, VTIS systems might be improved by the incorporation of AIS. Technology Selection The selection of VTS technology is an important exercise because it will substantially influence the effectiveness and cost of the system. The committee identified several considerations that may be helpful in the selection process. First, system capabilities should be defined before the technology 13   See the Lempert-Keene-Seastrand Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act of 1990. 14   The requirements for these committees, including membership and responsibilities, are spelled out in the Lempert-Keene-Seastrand Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act of 1990, Section 8670.23. A key provision requires the development of harbor safety plans that address the safe movement of all vessel traffic in ports covered by the plans.

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--> is selected to prevent the system design from being driven by equipment vendors or the acquisition process rather than actual needs. Second, the components should not increase the workload of vessel crews unnecessarily. From this standpoint, the best technology is one that limits verbal radio exchanges to critical matters, minimizes the need to exchange fixed data, and enables mariners to extract the right data at the right time. Third, onboard equipment should meet both international carriage requirements and domestic standards, so the operating environment is consistent, training requirements can be standardized, and costs to vessel operators can be controlled. It is assumed that the equipment will meet appropriate standards of performance and interfacing. Another key issue is the cost of the infrastructure required for mariners to benefit from a new technology. For example, the combination of DGPS and ECDIS promises to enhance both maritime safety and efficiency; however, several major infrastructure issues (e.g., upgrading nautical charts to the same level of accuracy as the positioning system) must be addressed before these benefits can be fully realized. Intelligent Transportation Systems New technologies for the enhancement of rail and highway traffic efficiency and safety have been the subject of research carried out by the Intelligent Transportation Systems Office of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Some of the research areas have included electronic tracking tags, identifiers, position locators, and other automated systems that could perform the labor-intensive operations in traffic management. A recent review of these systems as applied to intermodal freight transportation listed applications ranging from smart cards and bar codes to cargo tracking using DGPS and transponder identifiers (Alyward, 1996). The USCG should monitor this research to take advantage of the latest innovations in transportation technology to help solve waterways management problems. Summary Waterways management depends fundamentally on well trained personnel following rules for safe vessel transits. However, technology can also contribute substantially to navigation safety. A number of opportunities exist for enhancing the effectiveness and application of technologies in the United States. The greater availability and use of electronic charts, PORTS, and AIS could enhance safety in many U.S. ports and waterways, if reliable funding can be arranged and carriage requirements can be established for transponders. Determining where VTS systems should be installed and the specifics of their design is a complex process. The committee's vision calls for uniform VTS standards and capabilities across the nation, but the technological tools for each system would be selected on a port-by-port basis. The federal government is responsible for maritime safety, ensuring a consistent operating environment and compatible technologies, and enforcing regulations. Therefore, the federal government should be the competent authority for VTS systems and should provide vessel traffic management in areas where this would serve the national interest. The process for identifying ports that require new or enhanced VTS systems and for selecting the technologies to be used in each system should be updated and formally adopted. This process should take into account all of the USCG's missions. References Aylward, A. 1996. Intelligent Transportation Systems and Intermodal Freight Transportation. Report prepared for the ITS Joint Program Office by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Research and Special Programs Administration. Cambridge, Mass.: Volpe National Transportation Systems Center. IALA (International Association of Lighthouse Authorities). 1993. IALA Vessel Traffic Services Manual. St. Germain en Laye, France: IALA. INTERTANKO. 1996. U.S. Port and Terminal Safety Study: A Discussion Paper. Oslo, Norway: INTERTANKO. Lockwood, M. 1998. NOAA. Presentation to National Dialog on Vessel Traffic Services, Washington, D.C., May 20, 1998. Maio., D., R. Ricci, M. Rossetti, J. Schwenk, and T. Liu. 1991. Port Needs Study. Report No. DOT-CG-N-01-91-1.2, three volumes, prepared by John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Coast Guard. Marsh, P., and T. Richards. 1996. Maritime Technology in the San Francisco Bay Region. Pp. 6-15 in Proceedings of the Marine Safety Council, U.S. Coast Guard, July-September, 1996. Arlington, Va.: U.S. Coast Guard National Maritime Center. National Dialog on Vessel Traffic Services. 1997. Summary of Guidance from the National Dialog on Vessel Traffic Services. Available from the Marine Board, National Research Council, 2101 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20418. Tel. 202-334-3119. NOS (National Ocean Service). 1998. Hydrographic Data Acquisition Plan for Nautical Charting . Silver Spring, Md.: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOS. NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). 1997a. The Nautical Charting Plan, 3rd ed. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce. NOAA. 1997b. NOAA's Hydrographic Survey Plan, draft. Silver Spring, Md.: NOAA NRC (National Research Council). 1996. Vessel Navigation and Traffic Services for Safe and Efficient Ports and Waterways, Interim Report. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. SMART Forum. 1997. Forum on Safe Marine Transportation (SMART), February 27, 1997, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington. Unpublished report. U.S. House of Representatives. 1996. Congressional Record, September 16, 1996. H10398. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office.