1
Need for Improved Navigation Information Systems

The United States has a compelling national interest in maintaining the safety and efficiency of its ports and waterways. The nation's global competitiveness and domestic prosperity depend in large measure on the degree to which it can accommodate waterborne trade and ensure safe and efficient marine transportation. Many maritime safety initiatives have been launched in recent years, both in the United States and abroad, including a phased-in requirement for double hulls on oil tankers and targeted, comprehensive inspections of potential high-risk vessels by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). In addition, significant changes have been made in the culture of the shipping industry, as evidenced by the recent adoption of the International Safety Management (ISM) Code1 by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).2 These efforts are expected to improve maritime safety, and evidence suggests that they already have (NRC, 1994a). In addition, numerous initiatives to enhance trade efficiency have been pursued by the federal government (ITO6 Task Force, 1996) and the shipping industry (Aylward, 1996).

Despite this progress, a number of factors still contribute to persistent safety risks. For example, human error, a cause of 80 percent of maritime accidents (USCG, 1995a), remains a difficult problem to overcome. Concerns have also been expressed about the aging of commercial fleets and recurring anecdotal reports of substandard foreign-flag ships and crews (NRC, 1994a). Most of the deep-ocean commercial traffic in U.S. waters consists of foreign-flag ships.3 The United States exercises control over equipment and standards on these vessels primarily through the enforcement of international agreements.

Similarly, the efficiency of maritime transportation varies greatly in U.S. ports because of the diversity among ports in terms of governing and funding structures, local shipping patterns, services provided, and geography and environmental conditions. In general, however, the infrastructure of U.S. ports lags behind the most sophisticated ports in Europe and Asia (NRC, 1993, 1996). Although some U.S. shipping terminals have very modern cargo-handling equipment, their approach channels and berths are often too shallow to accommodate the deepest-draft ships (NRC, 1993; Vulovic, 1995). The expansion and maintenance of channels is also a problem; high costs and technical difficulties in handling contaminated sediments often slow the pace of dredging (MARAD, 1994; NRC, 1997).

Heavy traffic and a multiplicity of vessel types in some ports,4 as well as the hazardous nature of much of the cargo, creates safety concerns. The costs of shipping accidents and public concerns about the potential environmental impact of accidents are also significant. The aging infrastructure of U.S. waterways can compromise safety and efficiency in a number of ways. For example, because some ports cannot accommodate the deepest-draft ships, offshore lightering is commonly used to transfer petroleum from large ships to smaller vessels that can proceed into shallow harbors or waterways. Although the safety record of lightering operations is excellent (NRC, 1998), the number of cargo transfers is increased, which also adds to the costs of petrochemical

1  

The ISM Code lays the foundation for a new operational and cultural framework for ship management, requiring that policies and actions be consistent within an organization and focusing attention on human factors.

2  

A specialized agency of the United Nations, the IMO is the leading international forum for cooperation on issues affecting maritime safety.

3  

In 1992, 24,000 vessels of 1,000 gross tons or more were in operation worldwide. Of these, only 603 were registered in the United States, and approximately one-third of those were government owned (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1994).

4  

Except for the oil trade, vessel movements in U.S. waters are poorly documented (Research and Special Projects Administration, 1995), so it is not possible to acquire sufficient reliable data to demonstrate recent trends in vessel traffic. However, the following 1994 statistics for New York Harbor reflect the traffic situation at one busy port: 163,664 vessel movements, including 89,075 by ferries; 52,626 by tugs or tows; 6,945 by cargo vessels; 12,545 by tankers; 1,708 by public vessels; and 45 by vessels carrying hazardous materials. Furthermore, almost all cargo vessels carry small amounts of packaged hazardous materials (USCG, 1995b).



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--> 1 Need for Improved Navigation Information Systems The United States has a compelling national interest in maintaining the safety and efficiency of its ports and waterways. The nation's global competitiveness and domestic prosperity depend in large measure on the degree to which it can accommodate waterborne trade and ensure safe and efficient marine transportation. Many maritime safety initiatives have been launched in recent years, both in the United States and abroad, including a phased-in requirement for double hulls on oil tankers and targeted, comprehensive inspections of potential high-risk vessels by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). In addition, significant changes have been made in the culture of the shipping industry, as evidenced by the recent adoption of the International Safety Management (ISM) Code1 by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).2 These efforts are expected to improve maritime safety, and evidence suggests that they already have (NRC, 1994a). In addition, numerous initiatives to enhance trade efficiency have been pursued by the federal government (ITO6 Task Force, 1996) and the shipping industry (Aylward, 1996). Despite this progress, a number of factors still contribute to persistent safety risks. For example, human error, a cause of 80 percent of maritime accidents (USCG, 1995a), remains a difficult problem to overcome. Concerns have also been expressed about the aging of commercial fleets and recurring anecdotal reports of substandard foreign-flag ships and crews (NRC, 1994a). Most of the deep-ocean commercial traffic in U.S. waters consists of foreign-flag ships.3 The United States exercises control over equipment and standards on these vessels primarily through the enforcement of international agreements. Similarly, the efficiency of maritime transportation varies greatly in U.S. ports because of the diversity among ports in terms of governing and funding structures, local shipping patterns, services provided, and geography and environmental conditions. In general, however, the infrastructure of U.S. ports lags behind the most sophisticated ports in Europe and Asia (NRC, 1993, 1996). Although some U.S. shipping terminals have very modern cargo-handling equipment, their approach channels and berths are often too shallow to accommodate the deepest-draft ships (NRC, 1993; Vulovic, 1995). The expansion and maintenance of channels is also a problem; high costs and technical difficulties in handling contaminated sediments often slow the pace of dredging (MARAD, 1994; NRC, 1997). Heavy traffic and a multiplicity of vessel types in some ports,4 as well as the hazardous nature of much of the cargo, creates safety concerns. The costs of shipping accidents and public concerns about the potential environmental impact of accidents are also significant. The aging infrastructure of U.S. waterways can compromise safety and efficiency in a number of ways. For example, because some ports cannot accommodate the deepest-draft ships, offshore lightering is commonly used to transfer petroleum from large ships to smaller vessels that can proceed into shallow harbors or waterways. Although the safety record of lightering operations is excellent (NRC, 1998), the number of cargo transfers is increased, which also adds to the costs of petrochemical 1   The ISM Code lays the foundation for a new operational and cultural framework for ship management, requiring that policies and actions be consistent within an organization and focusing attention on human factors. 2   A specialized agency of the United Nations, the IMO is the leading international forum for cooperation on issues affecting maritime safety. 3   In 1992, 24,000 vessels of 1,000 gross tons or more were in operation worldwide. Of these, only 603 were registered in the United States, and approximately one-third of those were government owned (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1994). 4   Except for the oil trade, vessel movements in U.S. waters are poorly documented (Research and Special Projects Administration, 1995), so it is not possible to acquire sufficient reliable data to demonstrate recent trends in vessel traffic. However, the following 1994 statistics for New York Harbor reflect the traffic situation at one busy port: 163,664 vessel movements, including 89,075 by ferries; 52,626 by tugs or tows; 6,945 by cargo vessels; 12,545 by tankers; 1,708 by public vessels; and 45 by vessels carrying hazardous materials. Furthermore, almost all cargo vessels carry small amounts of packaged hazardous materials (USCG, 1995b).

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--> products. Lightering also increases the number of trips required to deliver cargo to terminals, and, thus, increases the volume of traffic that must be accommodated safely. Congestion has increased in some ports because competition for intermodal trade and shifts in trading patterns have led to the concentration of cargo at fewer ports (NRC, 1993). Congestion is also exacerbated by ongoing and projected changes in ship size and other characteristics (discussed later in this chapter). If U.S. ports fail to accommodate these changes, then cargo may be shifted to nearby foreign ports. Unfortunately, U.S. terminal upgrades are often delayed because of declining support from state and local governments and a variety of other reasons (MARAD, 1994). Thus, although it is difficult to determine actual performance levels because of inadequate data, especially data related to safety,5 continued attention to the safety and efficiency of U.S. ports and waterways is essential to the nation's economic well-being. For all of these reasons, the need to enhance maritime information systems in the United States is growing. A number of recent studies have detailed the shortcomings of existing systems and planned upgrades (GAO, 1996a, 1996b; INTERTANKO, 1996; National Performance Review, 1996; NRC, 1994a, 1994b, 1996). The national stakeholder discussion group convened by the USCG in 1997 and 1998 to help develop new plans for vessel traffic services (VTS) confirmed the need for immediate attention to maritime information issues (National Dialog on Vessel Traffic Services, 1997; see Appendix B). It was also apparent that recent federal efforts to develop and fund maritime safety information systems have not met mariners' needs. The demand for better maritime information systems is expected to grow as a result of trade patterns and trends. Forecasts predict continued growth in oceanborne trade, including oil imports to the United States (API, 1996). The condition of the U.S. maritime information infrastructure has implications for the nation's economy, both in terms of providing an attractive environment to shippers and in terms of handling a potential overload of information in a cost-efficient manner. Information systems also have environmental implications because, if properly designed and used, they can help mariners prevent and respond to accident-related spills. Furthermore, information systems can help address concerns raised by the prevalence of foreign-flag vessels in U.S. waters, a pattern that mariners say heightens the need for standardized navigation safety systems. The remainder of this chapter outlines barriers to expanding maritime advanced information systems, the shortcomings of U.S. ports, and relevant trends in maritime transportation. Barriers to Expanding Information Systems Rapid advances in information technology in recent years could greatly improve business operations in the U.S. maritime industry and in the daily operations of ports and waterways. Advanced maritime information systems, used singly or in combination, could ameliorate many of the problems faced by mariners. Available systems include radio navigation aids that permit individual vessels to determine their positions with a high degree of accuracy, VTS systems that monitor shipping in specific waterways, and automated cargo-tracking systems that serve individual terminals. National systems, such as the massive U.S. Customs Service database, which links dozens of port users with federal agencies, are also in operation. Although the technology is available to meet virtually every need, the implementation of these systems across the U.S. has been inconsistent, at best. Barriers to the widespread use of advanced information systems include the division of responsibilities for the management of U.S. waterways among multiple agencies at all levels of government, inadequate budgets for some critical maritime programs, the high costs of some specialized technologies, stakeholder opposition to paying for services that have traditionally been provided at no cost, limited access to certain key data, the incompatibility of many independently developed systems, the absence of standards for some attractive technologies, and the wide range and diversity of available systems. In general, the critical importance of the infrastructure (e.g., accurate real-time data and the training and qualification of system users) necessary to use these technologies effectively has not been appreciated. By contrast, many foreign maritime nations have been investing heavily in their ports, advanced maritime information systems, and supporting infrastructures (INTERTANKO, 1996; NRC, 1996). Some U.S. maritime information systems are designed, funded, and operated by federal agencies; some are developed in house and used by ship operators, shipping terminals, port authorities, or pilots; and some are marketed by private vendors. Some systems are paid for by users, whereas others are government funded or are supported by a combination of funding sources. Some information stored in these systems is widely shared, but much of it is accessible only to a limited audience. Many systems have been developed and implemented in isolation and are not interconnected, or even compatible with, other databases. Few systems are accessible to all potentially interested users, which has left vast resources untapped and important needs unmet. The effectiveness of many systems is often compromised by an outmoded or inadequate supporting infrastructure. The lessons that can be learned from the commercial use 5   Accident data maintained by the USCG, principally through the Marine Investigation Module (part of the Marine Information System for Safety and Law Enforcement), are of limited utility for broad-scale analyses. The value of the data is compromised by several factors, including the integrity of the locally generated accident information and inaccuracies (Research and Special Projects Administration, 1995). Information about near-misses is also inadequate.

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--> of advanced information systems by foreign ports are, in most cases, not directly applicable to the United States because foreign systems are typically configured for the centralized management of both waterway and port operations. In its interim report, the committee investigated the development and implementation of information systems in some major foreign ports and discussed the differences between the management of U.S. and foreign ports. The committee found that in most major ports in Europe and the Far East a central authority is responsible for traffic management and for the collection and dissemination of information regarding operational safety and efficiency. These central authorities provide mariners with standardized, consistent navigational information. In U.S. ports, however, these functions are usually not the responsibility of a centralized management authority but are provided by several federal agencies and a number of state and local authorities. Nevertheless, U.S. ports have the same need for safety and efficiency as foreign ports. The challenge in the United States is to exploit systems that can serve a variety of institutional structures and the common goals of safety and efficiency with no central focus for management and funding. Historical Perspective on U.S. Ports Ports and waterways are key elements of the U.S. infrastructure that support international and domestic trade, commerce, and recreation. They are also nodes in a global transportation system that must accommodate diverse vessel types and varying shipboard operating skills. Historically, the responsibility for infrastructure has been split among federal, state, and local governments and commercial interests. The division of responsibility developed pragmatically and has generally served the nation well. The federal government, for example, is chiefly responsible for the development and maintenance of, and safe operation in, shipping channels. This responsibility includes ensuring that all vessels that use U.S. waterways adhere to minimum international operating and safety standards. Protection of the environment is also a key federal responsibility; however, environmental protection is also a responsibility of state and local agencies whose efforts must be coordinated with those of the federal government. Federal responsibilities are spread among several agencies. The Maritime Administration (MARAD) promotes the development and utilization of ports and facilities and provides technical information and advice to other agencies and organizations concerned with ports. The USCG is responsible for enforcing maritime laws, ensuring port safety and security, providing aids to navigation, and providing search and rescue operations; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is responsible for maintaining accurate nautical charts (and more importantly the underlying data); and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is responsible for maintaining federal navigation channels. Local and state governments and the private sector are responsible for port management and development, and local measures that promote safety and efficiency vary greatly. This regime alone makes the effective management of U.S. waterways a unique challenge. With no cohesive vision for coordinating and prioritizing tasks, the maintenance and modernization of the infrastructure has fallen woefully behind those of other nations. The problems are mostly basic, arising from mismatches between the growing needs of commerce and the static dimensions and capabilities of the supporting waterways, shoreside facilities, and intermodal connections. There are also deficiencies in the timeliness and accuracy of available navigation data. Economic Importance of Ports Ports and waterways play a critical role in transportation, trade, and employment. For example, the United States leads the world in the value of imports and exports (WTO, 1996), which were valued at almost $1.2 trillion in 1994 (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1995). Commodity exports rose from 5 percent of the gross domestic product in 1984 to 7.5 percent in 1994 (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1995). Ports and waterways handle almost all U.S. overseas trade by weight and about half by value (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1995). In 1997, waterborne transportation of all commodities totaled more than two billion metric tons, about half domestic and half international trade (USACE, 1997). Some 145 ports (including inland ports) handled more than one million metric tons of cargo each in 1996 (DOT, 1998). Changes and increases in the volume and complexity of vessel traffic in U.S. ports and waterways have highlighted the need for information systems that can provide port and vessel operators with tools to manage the system safely and efficiently. Total U.S. waterborne trade has increased dramatically over the past few decades from more than one billion metric tons in 1965 to more than two billion metric tons in 1996. About one-half of that trade is domestic. The dramatic growth of foreign trade in recent years is expected to continue. Figure 1-1 shows that the waterborne foreign trade of about 875 million metric tons in 1990 grew to 1,050 million metric tons in 1997 and is projected to reach 1,350 million metric tons by 2001 (MARAD, 1998). This sizable growth has been concentrated in a few major U.S. ports. More than half is concentrated in 20 ports, and more than a quarter (575 million metric tons in 1996) is handled by just five ports. The 50 leading U.S. ports handle almost 90 percent of all waterborne commerce. Certain segments of waterborne trade, such as the containerized cargo trade, are also substantially concentrated. In 1997, 25 ports handled 98 percent of the foreign container cargo, and the leading 10 ports accounted for 80 percent, with the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex handling nearly one-third of all container traffic. Container cargo has also increased dramatically, an increase of more than 10 percent from 1996 to 1997.

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--> Figure 1-1 History and forecast of waterborne foreign trade through U.S. ports. Source: Maritime Administration. In addition, in certain ports and waterways, other traffic has grown substantially at the same time that the volume of trade and traffic by major commercial vessels has been growing and becoming more concentrated. This includes tug and barge traffic in the major Gulf of Mexico ports; ferryboat traffic in large ports, such as San Francisco, Seattle, and New York; pleasure craft traffic in all ports near major metropolitan areas; and cruise ship traffic in southern ports with access to the Caribbean. Shipments of oil and petroleum products constitute a major component of U.S. trade. The nation imports more than half the oil it consumes, and imports have been growing steadily (API, 1996). The contiguous 48 states receive about 1.4 million metric tons of crude oil and petroleum products per day by water, primarily from foreign sources and Alaska. Waterborne domestic trade in petroleum products, such as vehicle and aviation fuels, is also significant. The prevalence of these commodities along U.S. coasts poses a risk of accident-related spills—a persistent environmental, economic, and social concern. Shallow-draft tug and barge traffic constitutes a unique segment of U.S. maritime commerce. According to the American Waterways Operators, barges handle more than 600 million tons of commerce annually. Apart from its role in domestic commerce, barge traffic is also a critical link in international trade. For example, more than half of all U.S. grain exports, as well as 300 million tons of coal, 1 billion barrels of petroleum, and 450 million barrels of liquid chemical products, are transported annually by shallow-draft barges. Barge-tows vary in size from one barge and one towboat carrying 10,000 barrels of liquid chemicals to one towboat and 35 barges carrying more than 50,000 tons of mixed commodities. As a result, barges are often the most prevalent vessels in many harbors and inland waterways. U.S. seaborne international trade is now carried largely by foreign-flag vessels. In 1997, about 98 percent of U.S. foreign trade by tankers and 85 percent by cargo liners was carried by foreign-flag vessels (DOT, 1998). To accommodate expanding trade in the past few decades, oceangoing ships have grown considerably in size, complexity, and speed. Tankers carrying crude oil imports are commonly 100,000 to 400,000 deadweight tons (DWT).6 Container ships now carry from 4,000 to 6,000 20-foot-equivalent units (TEU),7 and even larger vessels are planned. Many other specialized vessels have evolved for specific cargoes or trades, particularly the petrochemical industry. Some of the petroleum and chemical cargoes carried by these vessels (as well as barges and container vessels) can be complex and highly toxic to humans and animals, increasing the public health and environmental risks from accidents. Shortcomings of U.S. Ports Changes in vessel characteristics, combined with other recent trends, have created demands that are beyond the capabilities of the infrastructures of many existing U.S. ports and waterways. These trends include changes in the patterns of vessel traffic and cargoes, a growing dependence on foreign sources of oil, changes in the nature and location of the U.S. industrial base, and the advent of just-in-time inventory management, which requires reliable scheduling. Some U.S. ports have been modernized in recent years, but others have not. In general, the emphasis has been on upgrading the land-side infrastructure and the handling and transshipment of cargoes. Less attention has been paid to the supporting waterways. The lack of improved waterways has created serious problems, especially for the petroleum trade.8 Many U.S. 6   Deadweight tons is a measure of a vessel's total carrying capacity, including the weight of the cargo, stores, fresh water, fuel, and crew. The larger crude oil carriers commonly call at deepwater offshore ports or are lightered offshore. 7   TEU (20-foot equivalent units) is the standard unit of measure for the container-carrying capacity of a vessel (the standard container is 20 feet long). 8   For a discussion of tanker-related issues, see INTERTANKO (1996).

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--> BOX 1-1 Nautical Charts Provide the Sole Means of "Seeing" Underwater and Dead Ahead Despite recent technological advances, nautical charts are still the only means for detecting what lies underwater immediately ahead of a vessel. Depth-sounding sonar can detect fish, submarines, and obstacles directly beneath a vessel and can even measure the speed of large tankers. Side-scan sonar can provide accurate information on water depths and measurements from the bottom of a vessel to underwater wrecks and obstructions. But these technologies work only at short ranges in modes where the known inaccuracies are small and acceptable. They cannot be used to "see" an object one to two miles ahead or determine how far it lies below the surface to within two or three feet. Such fine distinctions in the interpretation of sonar returns would be possible if the sonar beam were a very thin, absolutely straight line both from the sonar to the obstruction and, after reflection, from the obstruction to the sonar. Sound waves do travel in straight lines in water with uniform sound speed—but, that requires a very special condition of density, salinity, and temperature that rarely occurs near the ocean surface, where commercial and recreational vessels operate. Substantial military and industrial resources have been devoted to research on "underwater obstacle finders," and some devices have been placed into service. But these devices do not have the desired look-ahead range and/or the required fine angular resolution (1 part in 4,000). In one tanker development project, for example, the technology to look ahead with the required performance was discussed but never produced, possibly because of high cost estimates of several million dollars per ship (Rafael Gutierrez, Astilleros EspaZoles Technology Center, personal communication, June 10, 1998). Mariners today, as in centuries past, must depend on either paper or electronic nautical charts showing water depths and the positions of reefs, shoals, and wrecks. If the information is inaccurate, then the vessel is at risk. refineries and petrochemical complexes are located inland and can be reached only by lengthy river passages, dredged channels, or canals. Although the idea of opening new deepwater ports was studied in the late 1960s and early 1970s, only one deepwater terminal for crude oil was developed, the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port. Increasingly large tankers are now being crowded into existing U.S. ports and waterways where they must share the congested waters with a large volume of other commercial traffic and a growing number of recreational boaters. Nevertheless, if mariners had access to timely, accurate, and reliable information, they could safely and efficiently navigate congested ports and accommodate shortfalls that would otherwise impose costs and increase risks to vessels and to the environment. Unfortunately, some of the key shortfalls are related to inadequate information systems. One fundamental problem is the paucity of authoritative, accurate, up-to-date information about harbors and harbor approaches. Both vessel safety and transportation efficiency depend on the availability of hydrographic9 data and traffic management information (see Box 1-1). Mariners are forced to operate with incomplete or outdated hydrographic data, conflicting information published by various government agencies, and delays in publishing the most recent information (NRC, 1994a, 1994b). Outdated nautical charts and poor data on environmental conditions (i.e., weather, tides, and currents) create significant risks. In many cases, tidal, current, and water-depth predictions are based on information dating as far back as the turn of the century (NOS, 1995). U.S. coastal waters have never been completely surveyed, and about 60 percent of the nautical charts prepared by NOAA are based on pre-1940 data collected with obsolete technologies (NRC, 1994a).10 Coupled with the decentralized responsibility and authority for disseminating information at a given port, this situation creates confusion (particularly for masters of foreign-flag vessels) just when, for safety's sake, they most need accurate information on environmental and waterway conditions. NOAA has prepared plans to accelerate surveying and charting in critical regions but predicts that, at current funding levels, the existing backlog of outdated hydrographic surveys will take more than 25 years to eliminate (NOAA, 1996). Outdated surveys and funding limitations have precluded the use of the most advanced charting systems in U.S. waters. Electronic charts11 of various types are available but 9   Hydrography deals with the measurement of the bottom topography of waters and their marginal land areas, with specific reference to the elements that affect safe navigation, and the publication of information in a form suitable for use by navigators. 10   Mariners often cite new surveys as a critical safety need (NRC, 1996). 11   An electronic chart is a digitized version of a nautical chart, with graphic representation of water depth, shorelines, topographical features, aids to navigation, and hazards (National Research Council, 1994b, and references therein). An electronic chart is no better than a paper chart unless it is combined with additional information, including, at a minimum, the vessel's position and planned track.

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--> are only as accurate as the underlying hydrographic data, and electronic charts in the format specified by the international community are prerequisites for the use of electronic chart display and information systems (ECDIS),12 which have been characterized as "the best navigation advance to come along since radar was invented" (Ecker, 1993). The widespread use of ECDIS in U.S. waters will require the development of a hydrographic database that meets established international standards. NOAA is developing a standardized, fully attributed electronic chart for use in ECDIS, but progress has been slow (NRC, 1994b). Another notable gap in harbor safety information systems concerns the tracking of hazardous cargoes. If a spill or other accident occurs, then emergency response teams need to know what material they are dealing with, or else the cleanup efforts may fail and new hazards may be created.13 The USCG does not operate any electronic systems that can quickly notify its officers or others about hazardous cargoes. In Puget Sound, for example, notifications are made using paper records (see Appendix C). In general, electronic information about hazardous cargoes is maintained only by U.S. Customs Service and some individual ports, and access to this information is typically very limited. In the busy port of Charleston, South Carolina, the local customs network includes information about hazardous cargoes, but the port police and local firefighters, who would respond to an emergency, cannot access the system directly (see Appendix D). Instead, they must rely on lists of hazardous cargoes printed out and provided by terminal personnel upon the arrival of response teams. Foreign ports are much more advanced in this respect. When the committee visited Rotterdam, The Netherlands, in 1996, plans were being made to link the elaborate VTS to an electronic notification system for vessels carrying dangerous cargoes (NRC, 1996). The system included the necessary information for mounting an effective response to an incident. Some movement toward this kind of "one source" approach has been made in the United States. For example, emergency response teams in the Delaware River region can obtain hazardous cargo information from a local system that captures electronic manifests for all imported waterborne cargoes transiting the river for dissemination to the U.S. Customs Service and port customers. The system includes a pilot system for tracking sensitive cargo, which provides instant information on petroleum and chemical cargoes to the USCG and other government and spill response agencies.14 BOX 1-2 Definition of VTS The present report uses the IMO definition for VTS, which is a "service implemented by a competent authority designed to improve safety and efficiency of vessel traffic and protect the environment. The service shall have the capability to interact with the traffic and respond to traffic situations developing in the VTS area." Under the IMO definition, the "competent authority" is considered to be the national or local agency responsible for maritime safety. The term VTIS has not been defined by the international community, but in the United States it is applied to VTS-like systems operated by organizations other than the USCG. These organizations only provide information and do not have the authority to respond to traffic situations. Vessel traffic management systems also have shortfalls. Although VTS systems operated by the USCG have been established at a number of ports, the justification for them has largely been related to safety, and, consequently, they have not been fully integrated into overall port operations. In addition, VTS systems have not yet been installed in all of the ports that need vessel traffic management (NRC, 1996). In some areas, vessel traffic information services (VTIS) that are not operated by the USCG have been established. Mariners are often unaware of the differences in services and authority conveyed by the two sets of initials (see Box 1-2). Finally, a variety of communications problems continue to plague mariners. Critical information links, both ship-to-shore and ship-to-ship, are primarily based on voice radio. The oral exchange of important safety and commercial information is subject to error, the risk of which is often exacerbated by language difficulties, including colloquialisms and regional accents.15 Mariners report frequent interference on bridge-to-bridge communications channels, particularly in geographically complex, heavily traveled areas, such as the lower Mississippi River (Duffy, 1995). Communications are often impeded by unauthorized or inappropriate use 12   ECDIS receives position data from radio-navigation instruments and integrates them with a voyage plan and an "official" hydrographic database to provide a real-time display of the vessel's position with respect to the chart and voyage plan; electronic positioning is required, and a radar overlay is optional (NRC, 1994b). 13   Petroleum cargoes, for example, have different volatility, density, and toxicity characteristics that affect the material's behavior after a spill or during cleanup operations. 14   This system was conceived by the Maritime Exchange for the Delaware River and Bay and is now supported by a public-private partnership that provides capital for new technology. The port authority, pilots, and the state all support it. 15   See comments by the president of the International Maritime Pilots Association (Walsh, 1997) and Cushing (1994), who addresses communications problems in aviation that are also applicable to maritime commerce.

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--> of marine radio frequencies; overloading is common during adverse weather or in heavy traffic, when communications are most needed (NRC, 1994a). A number of solutions, including increased use of data-based systems, such as transponders, have been proposed or initiated. The USCG is beginning a pilot project with a transponder-based automated information system (AIS) as the basis for vessel traffic management in the Lower Mississippi River. The full benefits of the latest technologies cannot be exploited until the USCG's short-range communications system has been upgraded and modernized. The backbone of the current system is the national distress system (NDS),16 which provides VHF-FM coverage in coastal areas and navigable waterways used by commercial and recreational vessels. The current system, which consists of about 300 sites with remotely controlled VHF-FM analog transceivers, is outdated, does not provide complete coverage, and does not satisfy current needs. Moreover, NDS does not provide elements needed for the global maritime distress and safety system (GMDSS), which was recently established by the IMO. A cornerstone of the GMDSS is automated listening watches by shore stations on VHF-FM channel 70 for communicating in coastal regions. By February 1999, vessels will be required to have a channel 70 capability, but the United States will not have a listening system in place by that time. GMDSS should be compatible with the operation of AISs. Trends in Maritime Transportation The future of maritime transportation is being shaped by substantial projected growth in marine commerce. The aggregate tonnage moving through U.S. ports is projected to triple over the next 30 years (Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office, 1996), which will certainly change historic vessel traffic and patterns of port use and introduce new vessel-related problems. The growth in trade is being supported by major advances in vessel technology. In addition, U.S. ports are making major new investments in facilities. Public ports reported a record level of investment of $1.5 billion in 1997 and are projected to invest more than $7.7 billion in the next five years (DOT, 1998). In combination, these trends are expected to increase demands on the already overburdened U.S. maritime infrastructure. Unless this infrastructure, including information systems, is improved, patterns of commerce may shift in ways that will be detrimental to the U.S. economy. The trend toward very large container ships of 6,000 to 8,000 TEU capacity will put serious pressures on many U.S. ports. The issues range from the high costs and delays associated with dredging to the lack of space for additional longshore facilities to the need for improved rail and road corridors to and from ports (DOT, 1998). Adequate space and intermodal connections are becoming more and more important as corollaries to just-in-time inventory management and the general trend toward reducing the resources associated with goods in transit. To accommodate these concerns, goods must be handled promptly on shore, and ships must move in accordance with advertised schedules under all weather conditions and harbor traffic conditions. Information technologies are key to maintaining schedules and managing complex cargo flows. Other technological advances will also change waterway use. For example, the development of high-speed ferries, coupled with improvements that permit vessels to operate at higher speeds and lower costs, have reduced costs per passenger mile to levels that are competitive with other forms of transportation. Ferries may, therefore, become a preferred alternative to driving on congested highways, especially in areas with growing populations. The Washington State Ferry System, the largest ferry system in the United States, now operates 25 vessels that make a total of approximately 500 trips per day (see Appendix C). The system's managers project a 72 percent increase in demand on major routes in the next 20 years. Passenger services offered by private firms may also increase if water transportation proves to be a viable way of relieving highway congestion. There is a potential downside, however. In some crowded ports, such as New York and San Francisco, high-speed ferry operations have raised safety concerns.17 Ferry traffic poses safety risks regardless of its speed because it often crosses shipping lanes. The risks from high-speed ferries are even higher. Thus, sound vessel traffic management will be extremely important. Another trend that requires continuing attention is the apparent increase in the proportion of tug-barge combinations relative to deepwater vessel traffic in many areas. When vessel information and traffic services are established and improved, it is important to ensure the participation of all tug-barge units and other types of vessels. Participation in the Delaware Bay and River VTIS, for example, is voluntary and generally limited to large commercial ships and vessels that use the services of a state pilot (NRC, 1996). From the standpoint of navigation safety, barges and ships will require similar equipment and mariner qualifications to take advantage of advances in technology and participate in 16   The NDS was built to provide the USCG with a means of monitoring the international VHF-FM distress frequency (channel 16), coordinating search and rescue response operations, and communicating with commercial and recreational vessels. The secondary function of NDS is to provide command, control, and communications for USCG units performing maritime safety, law enforcement, national security, and environmental protection missions. 17   Safety concerns were described in a paper by a USCG officer (McKernan, 1997) presented at the April 1998 meeting of the Marine Board of the National Research Council. The safety of high-speed vessels has also been a topic of discussion at IMO meetings.

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--> advanced VTS systems. If shoal-draft users do not participate, the effectiveness of waterways management systems may be compromised. One solution to this problem is to require that all vessels using certain waterways carry transponders. Another, which has been instituted in the port of Houston-Galveston, is the establishment of shallow-draft traffic lanes for certain vessels. Other changes are taking place in vessel crews, operational practices, and navigation technology. The trend is to reduce the size of vessel crews and rely more on automated equipment. Reliable electronic information systems are, therefore, becoming increasingly important. With smaller crews, resources previously available for ancillary shipboard tasks, such as chart maintenance, will no longer be available. Shore-based emergency response teams will be needed to assist with onboard fires and hazardous cargo spills, heightening the need for the USCG and others (e.g., local police and fire departments and spill response teams) to have access to electronic cargo information. At the same time, the administrative workload will increase, partly as a result of new standards for training and qualifying mariners. This workload will be accompanied by a need for up-to-date information on a wide variety of topics to keep pace with the proliferation of cargo- and work-related regulations. To complicate matters, crew size is being reduced at the same time that agreements initiated by the International Labor Organization and governmental regulations are limiting at-sea work hours and establishing crew rest criteria. Eventually, bridge watchstanders on deep-draft ships may face the same burdens already experienced by crews on tug-barge combinations, where single-person watches have become the rule rather than the exception. The trend toward fewer watchstanders handling increased workloads underscores the importance of the American Pilots Association's (APA) efforts to improve information exchange between masters and pilots.18 The availability of accurate, up-to-date information about waterways conditions is essential, particularly in ports that do not have suitable anchorages and in areas where passages must be coordinated with tides to ensure adequate under-keel clearance. A concern related to the prevalence of foreign-flag deep-draft ships in U.S. waters is the increase in vessel personnel who may not be fluent in English. Frequent anecdotal reports have been made of the inability of crew members aboard many foreign-flag ships to communicate with onboard pilots and with VTS and other shore stations. The growing trend toward drawing crews of all grades from developing countries will increase the time required for mariners to exchange information. One partial solution to this problem would be to make essential transit-related information available in written form while the ship is still at sea. Information can also help mariners deal with severe and growing problems with channel maintenance. It is becoming increasingly difficult to fund new dredging projects to expand and deepen existing waterways, partly because the permitting process involves lengthy environmental reviews and partly because the costs of dredging, and the disposal of the resulting spoil, have increased almost exponentially (NRC, 1997). One way to minimize dredging requirements is to ensure that accurate, up-to-date bathymetric data are available to mariners, together with real-time information on water depths. Similar data will be required for vessels to exploit the navigational and passage management features of ECDIS, which may be essential for meeting transit schedules consistently in all weather conditions. Summary Enhanced maritime information systems should be integral to the modernization of U.S. ports to accommodate shipping trends, including projected growth in international trade and the development of larger and faster vessels. Crucial shortcomings in maritime information include the lack of accurate, real-time information about water depths and underwater obstructions in harbors and approaches; outdated nautical charts; the limited availability of electronic charts; inadequate systems for tracking hazardous cargoes; the incompatible designs of VTS systems; over-reliance on voice communications; and chronic shortfalls in federal budgets for information systems that promote navigation safety. References API (American Petroleum Institute). 1996. Petroleum Facts at a Glance. Washington, D.C.: API. 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. Cushing, S. 1994. Fatal Words. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. DOT (U.S. Department of Transportation). 1998. Status of the Nation's Surface Transportation System: Conditions and Performance Report. Report to Congress. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. Duffy, G.E. 1995. Testimony by George E. Duffy, chairman of the Governor's Task Force on the Maritime Industry for the State of Louisiana. Pp. 25-26 in Hearing before the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, U.S. House of Representatives, 104th Congress, First Session, June 29, 1995. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. Ecker, W.J. 1993. U.S. Electronic Chart Display and Information System Test and Evaluation Program Review, March 2, 1993. Kings Point, N.Y.: U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. GAO (General Accounting Office). 1996a. Intermodal Freight Transportation: Projects and Planning Issues. GAO/NSIAD-96-159. Washington, D.C.: GAO. GAO. 1996b. Marine Safety: Coast Guard Should Address Alternatives as It Proceeds with VTS 2000. GAO/RCED-96-83. Washington, D.C.: GAO. INTERTANKO. 1996. U.S. Port and Terminal Safety Study: A Discussion Paper. Oslo, Norway: INTERTANKO. 18 The Best Practices Summary, adopted by the APA in 1997, recognizes that the proper exchange of information between masters and pilots is critical to safe navigation.

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--> Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office. 1996. Intermodal Freight Symposium Participant Workbook. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Transportation. ITO6 Task Force. 1996. Report for the Government Information Technology Working Group of the National Information Infrastructure Task Force , Information Technology Initiative Number Six. Washington, D.C.: Office of the Vice President. MARAD (Maritime Administration). 1994. A Report to Congress on the Status of the Public Ports of the United States 1992-1993. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Transportation. October. MARAD. 1998. A Report to Congress on the Status of the Public Ports of the United States 1996-1997. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Transportation. October. McKernan, C.V. 1997. Industry and government study group focuses on operational safety issues confronting operators of high-speed ferries. Paper presented at spring meeting of the Marine Board, National Research Council, Washington, D.C., April 3, 1998. 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. National Performance Review. 1996. Access America: Reengineering through Information Technology. Washington, D.C.: National Performance Review and the Government Information Technology Services Board. NOS (National Ocean Service). 1995. Safe Passage into the 21st Century: Modernizing NOAA's Navigational Services. Silver Spring, Md.: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOS. NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). 1996. The Nautical Charting Plan. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce. NRC (National Research Council). 1993. Landside Access to U.S. Ports. Prepared by the Transportation Research Board, National Research Council . Washington, D.C.: Maritime Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation. NRC. 1994a. Minding the Helm: Marine Navigation and Piloting. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. NRC. 1994b. Charting a Course into the Digital Era: Guidance for NOAA's Nautical Charting Mission. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. NRC. 1996. Vessel Navigation and Traffic Services for Safe and Efficient Ports and Waterways, Interim Report. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. NRC. 1997. Contaminated Marine Sediments: Assessment of Management, Technologies, and Remediation. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. NRC. 1998. Oil Spill Risks from Tank Vessel Lightering. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Research and Special Projects Administration. 1995. Waterways Management Research and Planning Baseline Analyses: Project Overview. Prepared for the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Department of Transportation. Interim Report. Washington, D.C.: Research and Special Projects Administration, April. USACE (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers). 1997. Waterborne Commerce of the United States, Calendar Year 1996. New Orleans: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. U.S. Bureau of the Census. 1994. Statistical Abstract of the U.S.: 1995 (114th ed.). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Bureau of the Census. U.S. Bureau of the Census. 1995. Statistical Abstract of the U.S.: 1994 (115th ed.). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Bureau of the Census. USCG (U.S. Coast Guard). 1995a. Prevention through People, Quality Action Team Report, July 15, 1995. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Transportation. USCG. 1995b. U.S. Vessel Traffic Services. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Coast Guard. Vulovic, R. 1995. World Trade, Container Ships, and Ports: A Study in Commercial Symbiosis. Paper presented to the Marine Board, National Research Council, Washington, D.C., June 21-23, 1995. Walsh, G. 1997. Piloting and VTS. Professional Mariner 27:53-59. WTO (World Trade Organization). 1996. 1995 International Trade: Trends and Statistics. Geneva, Switzerland: WTO.