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VESSEL NAVIGATION AND TRAFFIC SERVICES FOR SAFE AND EFFICIENT PORTS AND WATERWAYS: Interim Report 2 Navigation Information Needs and Solutions Stakeholders in U.S. port and waterways management have a number of common interests, including the efficient movement of vessels, safety, protection of the environment, economic growth, law enforcement, and national security (see Chapter 1 ). To help satisfy these interests, navigation information systems are in wide use in U.S. ports and waterways. The adequacy of systems now in use are examined and perspectives on needed and planned improvements are set forth in this chapter. Controversial issues, such as the need for more or less regulation, are also explored. The committee 's analysis draws on comments from stakeholders during three outreach workshops (see Appendix B ). Navigation information systems in general are treated in this report, but special attention is focused on VTS and vessel traffic information services (VTIS), particularly in the context of the Coast Guard' s VTS-2000 program. These services (defined in Box 2-1 ) are generally viewed as providing vessels with specific navigation and traffic information as an aid to safe and efficient movement. VTS and VTIS usually consist of (1) a surveillance system that collects data on BOX 2-1 Definition of VTS The present report uses the IMO definition for VTS, where “competent authority” is considered to be the national agency responsible for maritime safety: “A VTS 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.” 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 Coast Guard. the location and movement of vessels, (2) means of obtaining environmental information, (3) a data management system, (4) a communications system for informing vessels of waterway conditions, environmental conditions, and possible hazards, and (5) the capability of controlling waterway access or directing traffic, if a government authority manages a VTS. AVAILABILITY OF INFORMATION AND DEFICIENCIES IN U.S. PORTS Users and Providers of Information A variety of organizations manage and use port and waterways services, and each requires information to support its operations. The relevant organizations are briefly described here, although the committee recognizes that information needs, and the data and systems provided to meet these needs, continue to evolve. Four federal agencies provide and use navigation information. The U.S. Coast Guard operates and maintains many traditional and advanced systems, ranging from traditional aids to navigation to electronic navigation services. The Coast Guard also operates a number of VTS systems, which may include radar and video imaging systems for observing waterways. The information obtained is used in carrying out Coast Guard missions, such as search and rescue operations, maritime law enforcement, and port safety and security. The Coast Guard also operates Automatic Identification Systems (AIS)—the first of which was deployed in Prince William Sound, Alaska. This system makes use of satellite navigation for the precise positioning of vessels in combination with automated communications of vessel movements. USACE generates important channel and waterways hydrographic information, primarily through surveys conducted in conjunction with dredging operations. Two services in NOAA provide navigation information. The National Ocean Service (NOS) is responsible for surveying and charting U.S. waters and is the major producer of nautical charts, in both paper and, increasingly, in electronic
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VESSEL NAVIGATION AND TRAFFIC SERVICES FOR SAFE AND EFFICIENT PORTS AND WATERWAYS: Interim Report formats. NOS also provides tidal and current predictions and operates the National Water Level Observation Network, a source of real-time tidal information. NOAA's National Weather Service generates weather predictions and, in conjunction with the Coast Guard, operates a series of offshore coastal weather buoys that are an important source of real-time weather data. There are also many private-sector users and providers of navigation information. Shipping companies and marine operators maintain data on vessel characteristics, cargo, and shipping schedules. Shipping agencies and brokers routinely act on behalf of operators in matters of customs, immigration, and agriculture, supplying much the same information as shipping companies. Marine exchanges usually act as brokers for information on the positions, cargos, and destinations of vessels within the confines of a given port, and they sometimes project arrival times. Aboard vessels, masters and other crew members have information on real-time conditions and capabilities and can modify, refine, or amplify information provided by the shipping company. Local pilots provide vital knowledge of local ports and waterways and nearly constant awareness of local conditions, such as physical obstructions, water levels, current flows, and ice. In some ports, pilots operate VTIS systems. But accurate information for safe and efficient vessel operations is not always available in a convenient form from one central source, nor is delivery always timely (Research and Special Projects Administration, 1995). For this reason, cooperation among various organizations is important for the viability and usefulness of all types of port information systems. Each stakeholder group has a role to play in the development and implementation of effective navigation information systems. System Availability Many navigation information systems are available or in use in U.S. ports and waterways. The equipment currently used ranges from traditional to advanced. State-of-the-art components and systems are available that can meet or exceed all functional requirements as well as satisfy the need for accurate, reliable, and adaptable information. Descriptions of the technologies referenced here are provided in Appendix C . Most mariners continue to rely on traditional systems, such as fide and current tables. They are also required to use nautical charts in paper form and voice radio communications. In recent years, positional data have also become available in electronic form; advanced technology provides more accurate and reliable data and improves delivery. Advanced technologies include the global positioning system (GPS), a Department of Defense system that provides military users with accurate position fixing, and differential GPS (DGPS), which the Coast Guard operates to adjust GPS signals so that accurate fixes are available to civilian users. These systems are used by certain pilots and vessel operators. Electronic charts are also available in various forms and will probably become standard in years to come; their utility depends in large part on the accuracy and reliability of hydrographic data. Real-time data on water levels, currents, and other environmental conditions can now be delivered electronically in selected ports through NOAA 's physical oceanographic real time system (PORTS), described in Box 2-2 . BOX 2-2 Physical Oceanographic Real-Time Systems (PORTS) The NOS has developed a flexible system of sensors and communications links that can provide real-time data about tides, water levels, currents, winds, waves, and other related factors important to safe navigation. This information is especially important for larger vessels maneuvering in restricted and congested waterways. PORTS has been designed to include a variety of advanced instruments, such as an acoustic Doppler current profiler to measure current speed and direction at various depths, and acoustic water-level sensors that can be installed at strategic locations throughout a waterway. These and other sensors can be connected to a communications transmitter to relay real-time data to a central station, from which the data can be made available to vessels through telephone or radio links or personal computers (through modem dial-up systems or the Internet). NOAA has provided sample equipment and demonstration units of PORTS to several U.S. port areas. The system is fully operational in Houston/Galveston and Tampa. In New York, the system has been demonstrated but is not operational because neither NOAA nor the local port has adequate funds. At other locations, there may be a need for these data but no authority has taken action to implement the system. In 1996, a PORTS systems is expected to become fully operational in San Francisco. The New York system is also expected to be upgraded and demonstrated in 1996 while NOAA works with a coalition of users to establish a permanent operations agreement. In Houston the system is funded through February 1997, and discussions are under way within the port to provide local funding for the future. No other PORTS installations or demonstrations are planned, although interest has been expressed in Los Angeles/Long Beach, Miami, and Fall River, Massachusetts.
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VESSEL NAVIGATION AND TRAFFIC SERVICES FOR SAFE AND EFFICIENT PORTS AND WATERWAYS: Interim Report Other advanced information technologies, such as electronic data interchanges, are being applied by many shippers to manage vessel cargos including clearing customs (National Research Council, 1993). The data on cargo may be of interest for waterways management, in cases of navigation emergencies or accidents involving hazardous cargo, and for purposes of analyzing shipping statistics or trends. No central entity in U.S. ports is responsible for the management or control of information on vessel movements or cargo. The absence of central information services means that the diverse data collected are not combined or analyzed for trends. For example, a VTS may record dangerous situations and near misses, but the information is not routinely maintained and analyzed to provide an overall picture of port safety (National Research Council, 1994a). Incompatibility of data formats and information systems is also a problem, underscoring the need for standardization (National Research Council, 1993). A central authority or clearinghouse for information on vessel navigation and traffic might increase the safety and efficiency of maritime commerce. Cooperative and interconnected systems have been established in some areas. The Marine Exchange in Philadelphia, for example, provides vessel data to the vessel traffic center operated by pilots at the entrance to Delaware Bay. Five marine exchanges joined forces to create the Maritime Information Service of North America, which disseminates West Coast shipping information. The Marine Exchange of Los Angeles/Long Beach (LA/LB) operates the VTIS at that port. System Deployment Although many navigation information systems are in place in U.S. ports and waterways, there are gaps in deployment. Some of the apparent discrepancies reflect different needs, but in other cases important information is not available to users who need it. There are no comprehensive data on system deployment or usage, either locally or nationally. Nor are there waterways management performance goals against which to measure the effectiveness of a system (Research and Special Projects Administration, 1995). Therefore, the evidence of uneven deployment is largely anecdotal, based on information from the outreach workshops and site visits conducted for the present study as well as the collective experience of committee members and previous reports by the National Research Council (1994a, 1994b). The evidence indicates that, despite the substantial efforts of federal agencies that maintain navigation information systems and services, and despite recent advances in technology, deficiencies at U.S. ports and waterways range from old and outdated charts and hydrographic data to the lack of real-time information on weather and water levels. The reasons for uneven deployment vary. Some systems in current use have not kept pace with technological advances, principally because of federal budget and procurement problems. Nautical charts are an example. Many paper charts contain outdated information gathered with obsolete technologies, but NOAA does not have the funds to keep up with requests for new surveys (National Research Council, 1994a, 1994b; National Ocean Service, 1995) Other advanced systems are not being implemented or used because of budgetary constraints. An example is the Port of New York/New Jersey PORTS system, which cannot be used because of a lack of operating funds and because the need for this system is not recognized by all local stakeholders. In short, although the technology is available, funding and institutional issues, including the lack of consensus on needs, have limited the implementation of effective navigation information systems. Local initiatives can sometimes overcome the limitations, however. In Puget Sound, for example, a PORTS system is considered too expensive and beyond local needs, but a coalition of waterways users is working with NOAA to upgrade existing tidal gauges. Thus, although there is no compilation of the needs of U.S. ports for navigation information systems, there appears to be a variety of significant needs for improved services. Table 2-1 summarizes the current status of navigation information systems, based on the evidence currently available to the committee. Some problems are more urgent than others; participants in outreach sessions repeatedly emphasized the need for updating nautical charts and data on tides and currents, deficiencies that have been implicated in a number of accidents (see Chapter 1). The overloading of voice communications channels is another often-cited problem. The large number deficiencies may, in part, be caused by the diffusion of responsibilities for providing the necessary information, as indicated in Table 2-1. Federal agencies have limited funds, and, although some ports can fund advanced system locally with little adverse impacts on their competitiveness, others cannot. Regarding the need to interconnect navigation information systems, stakeholders suggest that reporting should be standardized but not delivery systems, which only need to be compatible. To obtain the greatest benefit from the diverse data collected, it seems reasonable that the application and implementation of systems should meet basic international standards. OVERVIEW OF VESSEL TRAFFIC SERVICES Existing VTS/VTIS Systems in the United States Vessel traffic systems of various types and complexity are in operation in many major U.S. ports. The variations are due to many factors, including the year of installation, local geography, the economic and environmental significance of the port area, and the level and complexity of vessel traffic. The Coast Guard currently operates eight VTS systems (see Table 2-2 ). There are several privately operated VTIS
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VESSEL NAVIGATION AND TRAFFIC SERVICES FOR SAFE AND EFFICIENT PORTS AND WATERWAYS: Interim Report TABLE 2-1 Status of Selected Navigation Information Systems in the United States Type of Information/System Entity in Charge Upgrade and Deployment Needs Traditional navigation aids (buoys, lights, etc.) Coast Guard Improvements and expansion in certain ports Electronic positioning systems Coast Guard Transition from old systems, such as Loran, to newer ones, like DGPS, is under way Accurate nautical charts NOAA New and updated surveys and digitized charts Real-time hydrographic and oceanographic data a NOAA Not always available Real-time meteorological data b NOAA Usually available Notices to mariners Coast Guard Digitized format Cargo management information Shipping companies Technology varies; standards and data not always compatible Local knowledge Local pilots Information/communications systems sometimes lacking Waterways management c Coast Guard Technology not fully deployed; authority not fully exercised Bridge-to-bridge radio telephone Vessel operators and masters Voice communication channels often overloaded a Includes tides, currents, winds, water levels b Includes current weather conditions and forecasts c General stewardship of navigable waters to promote use among diverse or conflicting interest groups systems, the most prominent of which are located in LA/LB 1 and Delaware Bay (both described in Appendix D ). The levels of service provided vary, but accepted international guidelines for VTS systems emphasize traffic management and operation under a set of uniform procedures. If a VTS includes a surveillance system, it has the capability, under Coast Guard authority, of controlling marine traffic. The Coast Guard VTS policy is not to “control” vessels, as a general rule, but it can and does direct vessel movements in emergencies, usually by restricting access to waterways. The laws conferring this authority are summarized in Box 2-3 . Directives are given within the limitations placed on the watch officer by the information available from surveillance and other sources. Fully private systems, by contrast, have no legal authority to intervene and do not perform traffic management functions. Coast Guard VTS systems were created principally to reduce the risk of accidents that might lead to pollution, thereby serving the public interest in environmental protection. VTS systems also support Coast Guard missions, although not explicitly recognized, the commercial interest in safe and efficient vessel movements. In general, VTS users include deep-sea ships, coastal and inland tugboats and tows, ferries and passenger vessels, and most commercial vessels, but not recreational boaters. 2 Shipping companies and port districts generally have supported the concept of VTS because they perceive that it provides a measure of safety. Stakeholders in most ports already served by VTS systems generally agree that they are useful. However, now that user fees have been proposed as a funding mechanism, some private stakeholders are insisting that evidence be presented of the specific benefits derived from VTS systems. Various arguments against user fees have been presented. The basic argument is that the benefits of VTS extend beyond the direct users to the public at large—and, therefore, should be funded federally. Industry also contends that even a slight increase in cost that does not produce a benefit may place a port at a competitive disadvantage. At the several major ports with VTS, there are various levels of satisfaction among users. Some believe that the systems provide very few benefits, while others believe they are essential to safe navigation. Stakeholders identified several areas that require attention. Some users state that frequent rotation of Coast Guard personnel makes it difficult to maintain an adequate level of experience among VTS watchstanders. This problem can be minimized and becomes a training issue when permanently stationed civil servants operate the VTS. Navigation expertise is not an issue where pilots operate a VTS, but in many cases this may not be practical or cost effective. And there are serious concerns about compensation and liability. Highly trained, experienced operators and long-term continuity are vital for successful VTS systems. In addition, some VTS systems have experienced interference and other problems affecting the reliability of very high frequency (VHF) radio communications. This is part of the larger problem of the overloading of marine radio frequencies (noted in Chapter 1 ). Ship masters also report that VTS operators sometimes transmit too much information irrelevant to their particular needs, distracting them from other navigation duties. In general, a VTS should be as unobtrusive as possible to the user; objectives should include the automation and minimization of voice traffic, as well as the development of improved standards for using communications systems. Privately operated VTIS systems usually directly satisfy the needs of the commercial operators and users who 1 The Coast Guard participates in the operation of the LA/LB system and can exercise authority in traffic control. 2 The Coast Guard requires VTS participation of all vessels greater than 40 meters, vessels greater than 8 meters and engaged in towing and vessels certified to carry 50 or more passengers. In addition, all vessels greater than 20 meters are required to monitor the VTS frequency.
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VESSEL NAVIGATION AND TRAFFIC SERVICES FOR SAFE AND EFFICIENT PORTS AND WATERWAYS: Interim Report TABLE 2-2 Coast Guard VTS Operations as of 1996 Location Opened Average Daily Vessel Transits a Radar Sites Other Surveillance Communication Sites Puget Sound, Washington 1972 (voluntary) 1974 (mandatory) 740 12 3 CCTV 13 VHF-FM New York/New Jersey 1978–1980, 1985–1988, 1990–present 450 13 9 CCTV 3 VHF-FM Houston/Galveston 1975 (voluntary) 1994 (mandatory) 460 2 8 CCTV 3 VHF-FM San Francisco 1972 235 4 3 CCTV 4 VHF-FM Prince William Sound, Alaska 1977, major upgrades in 1991 and after 16 2 AIS 8 VHF-M 2 HF Berwick Bay, Louisiana 1975 300 1 4 CCTV 1 VHF-FM St. Mary's River, Michigan 1976 (automated) 1994 (mandatory) 130 0 4 CCTV 2 VHF-FM Louisville, Kentucky 1973 (voluntary, ops. 60 days/yr.) 18 0 0 1 VHF-FM a 1994 data supplied by Coast Guard VTS operators and includes all vessels included in VTS surveillance. CCTV=closed-circuit television. AIS=automatic identification system (for vessel tracking). established the system, while indirectly addressing the environmental concerns of the wider public. VTIS systems are less expensive than VTS systems but have a number of drawbacks. Perhaps most important, most VTIS systems do not have the legal authority to intervene in emergencies.3 In addition, the scope and geographical coverage of VTIS systems tends to be limited; the LA/LB and Delaware Bay surveillance systems, for example, cover only the harbor entrances, and some vessel movements are not monitored. These constraints may not necessarily compromise waterways safety or efficiency; however, because there are no national standards for VTIS, vessel operators cannot rely on consistency in coverage, accuracy, or the reliability of equipment. Thus, VTIS systems may not fully serve the public interest. Finally, there is widespread concern about potential tort liability associated with a VTIS that provides information and/or directions that could be blamed for an accident. This concern has driven some private VTIS operators to seek relief from liability under state law or by working under the aegis of the Coast Guard. California passed legislation granting immunity to liability for negligence to employees and representatives of the Marine Exchange and thus to the VTIS operators. Delaware pilots were granted limited liability by the state legislature. The liability problem has been advanced as a reason fully private systems are unworkable. Federal legislation to limit liability has been suggested. BOX 2-3 Coast Guard Authority for Controlling Vessel Traffic The Port and Waterways Safety Act of 1972 expands Coast Guard jurisdiction over all vessels using U.S. ports and specifically authorizes the Coast Guard to “establish, operate, and maintain vessel traffic services and systems for ports, harbors, and other waters subject to congested vessel traffic.” The Port and Tanker Safety Act of 1978 provides the Coast Guard with broader and more explicit authority. Among other provisions, the act addresses improvements in the supervision and control over all types of vessels, both foreign and mestic, operating in U.S. navigable waters and in the safety of all tank vessels. The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 enhances the authority of the Coast Guard to regulate the conduct of oil tankers and merchant marine personnel and to “construct, maintain, operate, improve, or expand vessel traffic services” In addition, the act mandates participation by “appropriate vessels” operating in a VTS area. Vessel Traffic Services Regulations (33 CFR, Part 161, Subchapter P) establish Coast Guard authority to include communications, vessel operations, and navigational restrictions. 3 The VTIS operating in LA/LB has addressed this problem by using Coast Guard personnel as watchstanders, who can use the authority of the Coast Guard captain of the port to take action, as needed, in an emergency or dangerous situation.
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VESSEL NAVIGATION AND TRAFFIC SERVICES FOR SAFE AND EFFICIENT PORTS AND WATERWAYS: Interim Report The committee could not locate any comprehensive analyrical data proving that VTS systems actually improve port and waterways safety and efficiency. The Port Needs Study (Maio et al., 1991) was a useful measure of the risk of oil spills in U.S. ports when it was done in 1991 and helped the committee identify which ports were most in need of safety improvements, such as VTS. Today, this study is of limited value for setting priorities for VTS in specific ports. First, the report is out of date. It uses 1989 vessel traffic statistics and does not reflect recent major changes in vessels, the development of ports, and the movement of cargo. Second, the report is based only on the probability of preventing hypothetical oil spills and does not cover the risk of other accidents or consequences. The Coast Guard has recognized these limitations and is in the process of revisiting each VTS candidate port to establish a more comprehensive and up-to-date evaluation. However, anecdotal evidence of the utility of VTS systems abounds. For instance, during testing of newly installed equipment at the VTS in Prince William Sound, Alaska, (the site of the Exxon Valdez accident in 1989) the system was able to detect and alert a fully loaded tanker that was dragging anchor in 79-knot winds and in danger of running aground. The LA/LB system has been credited with saving eight lives in two years by sharing information with the Coast Guard and captain of the port. At the request of pilots, area oil companies funded recent improvements in the Delaware Bay VTIS, extending radar coverage to the southern and eastern sea lanes and providing every local pilot with portable DGPS units that enable position fixing to within one meter. The pilots association believes the new systems have helped prevent several mishaps and may allow operations to proceed with a greater level of assurance of safe transits. Perspectives on VTS-2000 VTS-2000 is a major acquisition project that would implement the results of the Port Needs Study (Maio et al., 1991) by establishing a national VTS system responsive to the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. It is now in the design and development stage, and the Coast Guard has awarded three contracts in FY 1996 in a design competition to prepare overall system designs that can be tailored to specific local needs. No hardware will be purchased until the overall design has been completed, a prime contractor has been selected, and requirements have been discussed with each port. New Orleans was selected to be one of the first installations. Ultimately, new or upgraded systems are to be installed in as many as 17 ports. According to current schedules, the last system would be installed by 2006. Under this plan, the Coast Guard has estimated that the total development and installation costs would be between $260 million and $310 million (in FY 1993 dollars). In addition to this capital cost, the annual operating costs for the complete 17 port system would be $42 million in FY 2010 (Anderson, 1996). The prospect of funding these levels with tight federal budgets has prompted the U.S. Congress and others to question the extent and cost effectiveness of the program. The Congress has also inquired about possible funding alternatives, such as new private initiatives that would establish user fees to recover costs. Stakeholder opinions of VTS-2000 are mixed and reflect considerable confusion over features of the system, perhaps because the current plans are not very specific (see Box 2-4 ). Numerous comments were made at the outreach sessions suggesting that even if a national system like VTS-2000 is cost efficient it may not meet local needs. As understood by many local users in many ports, VTS-2000 exceeds what is needed in some areas but does not provide urgently needed improvements quickly enough. In addition, although the Coast Guard consulted many stakeholders to determine VTS2000 requirements, many involved do not feel their voices were heard. Outreach efforts need to be continued in the future to keep abreast of changes in the program and changes in port conditions. A number of stakeholders from the lower Mississippi River area described the system as too expensive and more extensive than they need. They cited several mismatches between the proposed system and actual needs. These perceptions should be considered, especially in light of the fact that no specific system has yet been designed for New Orleans and the lower Mississippi. The committee has been assured that the Coast Guard intends to review user needs prior to selecting the final design and purchasing hardware. In general, stakeholders emphasized that navigation information systems must satisfy local needs. The success of the PORTS system in Tampa can be attributed in part to a good match between needs and system. Tampa Bay has a very shallow approach and is subject to changes in tides and water depths. Stakeholders feel the PORTS system addresses those conditions and enhances safety by identifying maximum allowable drafts (Maddox, 1995). Some stakeholders suggested that the installation of VTS is less important than a number of other navigation safety enhancements, including improved bridge-to-bridge communications, updating nautical charts, the development of accurate digital charts, and improved aids to navigation. (These needs were summarized in Table 2-1 .) It was suggested that specific deficiencies in each port be identified and the lowest cost solution be implemented before final decisions are made on implementing VTS. In light of the broad interest in controlling the cost of VTS-2000, this may be an approach worth considering. Regarding who should operate VTS systems, many stakeholders expressed support for public/private partnerships. They noted that partnerships could provide stability and a low-turnover work force with knowledge of the local area. Partnerships may enable the Coast Guard to maintain legal authority to ensure the safe operation of ports and waterways,
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VESSEL NAVIGATION AND TRAFFIC SERVICES FOR SAFE AND EFFICIENT PORTS AND WATERWAYS: Interim Report BOX 2-4 Plans for VTS-2000 VTS-2000 is intended to implement the results of the Port Needs Study, which projected potential safety and economic benefits from VTS operations in major U.S. ports and waterways and identified the ports that could expect the greatest benefit-to-cost ratios. VTS-2000 now focuses on 15 ports that fall into the “positive” and “sensitive” net benefit categories, plus two additional ports where there are existing Coast Guard VTS systems. The 17 ports are listed below. The Port Needs Study estimated that the combined net benefits for these 17 ports over a 15-year life cycle would be in excess of $2 billion (as measured by the prevention of collisions, pollution, casualties, cargo losses, and hazardous cargo spills). In 1993, the Coast Guard conducted a review of stakeholder interests in vessel traffic and waterways management and convened a concept-and-requirements team to help fashion VTS-2000 goals. The results of this and other outreach efforts at individual ports were used to help direct the next phase of the project. The Coast Guard then prepared documents for soliciting of contractors for systems design and integration. The Coast Guard has awarded three contracts and expects to select a single systems integration contractor in late 1996. That contractor will be responsible for engineering designs, developing computer software, procuring hardware, and integrating all system components. The Coast Guard plans to get input from each port community before finalizing the purchase of any hardware for that port. The Coast Guard will then direct the contractor to install specific equipment. The Coast Guard has not made a final decision about which ports will receive VTS-2000, but it has identified the four ports (New Orleans, Port Arthur/Lake Charles, Houston/Galveston, and Corpus Christi) with the highest priority. 17 Ports Selected (not in order of priority) Los Angeles/Long Beach, California Port Arthur, Texas Mobile, Alabama Boston, Massachusetts Tampa, Florida Philadelphia/Delaware Bay, Pennsylvania Chesapeake Bay North/Baltimore Puget Sound, Washington Prince William Sound, Alaska New Orleans, Louisiana Houston/Galveston, Texas Corpus Christi, Texas New York, New York Portland, Oregon Providence, Rhode Island Long Island Sound, New York San Francisco, California while the involvement of local authorities and the maritime industry in the development and operation of VTS systems ensures that the information provided is reliable and useful. Furthermore, there is some evidence that partnerships can work. Certain forms of public/private partnerships for VTS are feasible, practical, and already working in some ports. Some stakeholders said pilots should be present in the VTS operations center where traffic is heavy or conditions are dangerous, and that VTS operators should be local mariners who are familiar with the local conditions. The committee believes it is reasonable that, although many alternatives for local implementation are possible, the safest operation would make use of all available expertise. Regarding funding, stakeholders in most ports contend that the federal government should fund VTS systems. If this is not possible, however, they believe that some users may tolerate modest fees. However, the imposition of fees increases the need for stakeholder consultation and substantive involvement in the development and implementation of VTS. Most of the stakeholders present at the outreach sessions agreed they would support some kind of combination funding, with the extent of private funding depending on the situation. The committee could not locate any reliable analyses of the impact of user fees on maritime commerce or port competitiveness. However, it seems reasonable that the viability of user fees would depend, in part, on the characteristics of a port, including its economic competitiveness and the nature of the vessel traffic. Operators of deep-sea ships, for example, who may be accustomed to paying fees for foreign VTS systems and are eager to improve safety might be more willing to pay user fees than U.S. operators of tugs and barges. The overall cost of a VTS system is also a factor in
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VESSEL NAVIGATION AND TRAFFIC SERVICES FOR SAFE AND EFFICIENT PORTS AND WATERWAYS: Interim Report the magnitude, and therefore viability, of user fees. There are big differences in the basic equipment and coverage needed at individual ports, depending mostly on the size and configuration of the area to be served. For example, the Puget Sound VTS requires 12 radars while the LA/LB system has only one. Another consideration in determining federal and private funding shares may be the extent to which a port serves demonstrable national or local interests. Where there is a clear national interest in promoting safety, such as in ports with heavy traffic and many vessels carrying hazardous cargoes in bulk (Houston is an example), it may be appropriate that there be substantial federal control of and funding for VTS. European Experiences with VTS About 300 VTS and VTS-like systems are in operation in ports throughout the world. As recently as 1989, well over half of these were located in Europe (Mizuki et al., 1989). This is not surprising because both the concept and the technologies associated with VTS first emerged in Europe. The impetus for the European development of VTS was primarily economic, grounded in the need for ports to compete for ship calls and cargoes. Ports that could move ships reliably and safely during the prevailing fog of a European coastal winter made money. Those that could not saw their business go elsewhere. The United States, by contrast, has approached VTS from the standpoint of safety, viewing it as a tool for reducing the risk of accidents that might result in casualties and pollution. While the U.S. Congress and port stakeholders have stressed the absence of hard data to prove the effectiveness of VTS, Europe is apparently dedicated to improving and expanding the systems there. It is therefore instructive to look to Europe for lessons that may be applicable, or not applicable, in the United States. At first glance, European VTS systems seem to depend largely on individual ports and their maritime users for both operation and funding. A working group from the committee investigated the validity of that perception during a European visit in January 1996. Three waterway complexes were selected as a cross section of European VTS operations. 4 The three were the Port of London, in the United Kingdom; the Port of Rotterdam, in the Netherlands; and the Elbe and Weser rivers in Germany, which are served by the vessel traffic centers at Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, and Brunsbuttel. London and Rotterdam are busy ports with highly developed but different types of VTS systems. The Elbe is significant because it supports the heavy traffic serving Hamburg, and the system was upgraded in 1995 to incorporate what is arguably the most advanced technology in the VTS field. This section is a discussion of the results of that trip and responses to a questionnaire submitted to the authorities in advance of the visits. The trip was a study in contrasts. The London VTS is an example of a system extensively integrated into the day-to-day operations and business of the port. The volume of traffic volume is comparable to the traffic in many U.S. ports, and the basic justification for the system at the present time is safety. Safety concerns center around preventing pollution in the sensitive Thames Estuary, preventing spills of hazardous substances in the heavily populated greater London area, and preventing damage to the Thames Barrier. 5 The VTS system is operated by the Port of London Authority, a self-funding body responsible for the safety of navigation on the Thames River from the seaward approaches to the tidal limit at Teddington Weir (west of London). The authority is responsible for the VTS, pilotage, aids to navigation, maintaining shipping channels (dredging), and conducting hydrographic surveys. Many of the traffic center operators are pilots. No specific VTS-related user charges are assessed, but the cost of the service is recovered through other local fees and charges. Income for the Port of London derives principally from vessel and cargo conservancy fees and pilotage charges; a portion of the overall revenue is used to cover VTS expenses, including all operating costs and capital costs for improvements. A different approach to VTS was evident in Rotterdam and Hamburg (served by the Elbe River VTS system), which share several important attributes: volume of traffic, the schedules of vessel movements, and competition. Traffic at both Rotterdam and Hamburg is heavy. In the Elbe River, for example, ships pass any given spot every 11 minutes, on average (about 130 vessels per day). Because of the level of traffic at both ports, they have found it necessary to coordinate ship movements closely with the availability of berths, tugs, and other longshore services. The alternative to coordination, as described by one official, is “chaos” (Hinsch, 1996). Vessel movement schedules are taken seriously in both ports. Authorities indicated that VTS was essential for organizing traffic so that the liner trade could consistently meet published schedules. Changes in schedules or unplanned deviations cause major disruptions to the intermodal transportation systems serving both ports. Officials are concerned that liner operators might switch to other ports if there are frequent deviations from schedules. Neither Rotterdam nor Hamburg has much competition from ports in the same country, but there is strong competition from ports in other countries. Loss of business, therefore, affects not only the losing port but also the port state. 4 Individual committee members also visited VTS centers at Singapore, Hong Kong, Yokohama, and Kaoshiung during the period of this study. These visits confirmed that the three European ports are representative of the most advanced and comprehensively managed ports in the world. 5 The barrier is an extensive (and expensive) structure engineered to protect Greater London and the upper reaches of the Thames River from the effects of exceptionally high water.
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VESSEL NAVIGATION AND TRAFFIC SERVICES FOR SAFE AND EFFICIENT PORTS AND WATERWAYS: Interim Report Maritime commerce is recognized as a primary component of the economy in both the Netherlands and Germany, and it is government policy in both countries to increase the volume whenever and however possible. Authorities say VTS is one way of accomplishing that objective. In Germany, the working group was told that, without VTS, Hamburg would be closed 40 days per year because of poor visibility. The attitude was similar in Rotterdam, where it is said that, without a VTS, traffic flow would be disrupted one day out of every four. The organization of vessel traffic centers in both the Netherlands and Germany differs from the organization of most U.S. traffic centers. In both countries the watch is organized into three distinct components: Managing Traffic. A traffic management group provides strategic management of waterway shipping. Their role includes, among other things, queuing, establishing estimated times of arrival and speeds of advance, and adjusting movements to avoid meetings at hazardous locations. Providing Navigation Advice. A second group, generally active only in bad weather, provides detailed navigation assistance to pilots and to masters of vessels transiting without pilots on board. The members of this group are all pilots. Tracking Hazardous Cargo. A third group is charged with maintaining data about all hazardous goods moving in the waterway. A database of chemical hazards, response criteria, and other relevant factors is available to them. The group is a source of accurate information for public safety teams and response organizations in the event of accidents involving hazardous materials. The German and Netherlands VTS systems are supported by a mix of central, regional, and local governments, and user fees paid by commercial waterway users. The lines of demarcation between the various entities are not always clear or simple. In Germany, for example, VTS systems are operated by the Federal Waterways Administration, which is subdivided into the Wasser und Schiffahrtsamt (the local authority responsible for aids to navigation, maintenance of shipping channels, and VTS) and the Wasser und Schiffahrtsdirektion (the intermediate authority responsible for making rules). Both subdivisions operate under the supervision and jurisdiction of the Federal Ministry of Transport but are not apparently subdivisions of either the state or federal government; they are traditional regional bodies that antedate the present governmental structure. In Rotterdam, VTS-related user fees are paid to the city, which also receives annual allocations of funds from the national government for VTS maintenance and improvements. The city, in turn, provides an annual appropriation to operate the Port of Rotterdam, including the VTS, some of which comes from the city's general revenues. User fees probably support an estimated 70 to 90 percent of VTS operating costs; the target is about 70 percent. The other 30 percent is (or should be) covered by the government because it represents the costs of regulatory enforcement. The picture is murky because VTS operator training is a national government responsibility, and it was not clear which training costs, if any, are borne by the VTS or the port. All of the capital costs of the current Rotterdam system (about $180 million to date) have been covered by the local and national governments. The Elbe River VTS system costs about $36.3 million per year to operate. The capital value was given as $376.9 million. Capital and operating costs are borne almost entirely by the federal government. Less than 6 percent of the annual operating costs are recovered through a scheme in which the pilots organization reimburses the VTS for use of the facilities to provide remote pilotage and navigation assistance. The federal government has shown some interest in moving toward a “user pays” approach to cover operating costs, similar to the approach taken in Rotterdam. In summary, the European experience provides several useful lessons: Need. In each case, a VTS system was needed to meet safety or commercial requirements, or both. The need was clearly and widely recognized. Benefits. Although formal cost-benefit analyses for European VTS systems were not available, the benefits were evident in both Rotterdam and Germany. Given the number of days that the ports would otherwise be closed, or traffic slowed down, without a VTS, the economic gain from 365-days-a-year operations undoubtedly runs into hundreds of millions of dollars. Private Support. The London VTS is an example of a functioning, privatized system, with all operations and capital improvements funded by revenues collected from port customers. The funding scheme goes beyond user fees because the funds are obtained not only from vessels but also from land-side tenants. Central Government Involvement. In both the Netherlands and Germany the national governments play a major role in the development, management, and operation of VTS, and their role goes beyond funding. In Germany, the monetary contribution has been substantial, and the VTS system has been incorporated into the public safety structure. The VTS systems also help the government ensure maritime safety. Partnerships. In both the Netherlands and Germany, partnerships exist among national, regional, and local governments and the private sector. These partnerships appear to be based upon historic developments that occurred over a period of several hundred years and grew to involve VTS systems. The present structure undoubtedly represents an evolutionary adaptation of traditional relationships to accommodate modern realities. The advanced VTS systems in European ports are made possible, in part, by broad support and investment from many
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VESSEL NAVIGATION AND TRAFFIC SERVICES FOR SAFE AND EFFICIENT PORTS AND WATERWAYS: Interim Report national governments—a stark contrast to the skepticism now evident in the United States. The European Union (EU) (and its predecessor organization), has invested and continues to invest substantial funds in VTS-related research, pilot programs, establishing standards and policy making. Funds are drawn from member nations. This EU funded and managed a 1988 study reviewing VTS systems for the future (Commission of the European Communities, 1988) and has funded VTS installations for certain ports. One of the side benefits has been the development of European vendors of VTS equipment, who now dominate the world market. In addition to these European Ports, individual committee members also visited VTS operations in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Tokyo Bay, which have various capabilities and technology advancements. The technology and operational capabilities of the system in Singapore are comparable to the most advanced European systems. Hong Kong and Tokyo Bay VTS systems are less advanced and do not function as well in managing port and waterways traffic. These and experiences with other Asian VTS systems confirm that European VTS are representative of the most advanced systems. SUMMARY A number of significant findings can be derived from the preceding analysis. First, navigation information systems are available that can meet virtually all needs, but because of gaps in deployment among U.S. ports and waterways important information is not always available to users who need it. These gaps in deployment may compromise safety and could increase risks over the long term. Stakeholders are generally satisfied with existing Coast Guard-operated VTS systems, although there are some complaints about unnecessary information being transmitted and some inexperienced VTS watchstanders. Industry stakeholders showed considerable confusion and apprehension over VTS-2000. Some see the program as too extensive, too expensive, and too slow to address the critical needs, particularly if they will be asked to pay user fees. Moderate user fees might be acceptable if stakeholders were involved in design and development of the VTS proposed for their area and could be convinced that the system would meet their needs cost effectively. The amount and, therefore, viability of user fees depends on the characteristics of the port and the vessel traffic, among other factors. Answering the questions about VTS-2000 posed by many local stakeholders, given that both the affordability of and the need for the program are in question, may require revising the current plans. At the very least, the Coast Guard must continue to support an outreach program, both to hear stakeholder views of specific needs in individual ports and to seek input on and cooperation in system design and implementation. In some areas, it may be more important to update navigation charts, provide real-time environmental data, or repair existing systems than to install new VTS systems. Weighing these priorities is beyond the scope of the present report, but these issues should be addressed to ensure the best use of scarce federal funds. Fully private and public/private VTIS of varying levels of sophistication are already functioning. These systems, which are sometimes less expensive than VTS systems, demonstrate that private funding and stakeholder cooperation are viable concepts in both development and operations. However, VTIS systems have several drawbacks. Unless the Coast Guard is involved in operations, watchstanders lack the legal authority to intervene in emergencies. Furthermore, there are no imposed national standards for VTIS systems, which tend to be limited in coverage and scope; thus, although they may meet commercial needs, they may not fully serve the public interest. Private operators also want protection from liability in cases when their advice might be implicated as a cause of an accident. Some federal involvement may be advisable, not only to provide authority for controlling traffic in emergencies but also for helping cover capital costs for VTIS systems comprehensive enough to ensure safety, as judged by the Coast Guard. Experiences with VTS in Europe, where the systems are highly advanced, provide some valuable lessons. The benefits of VTS have not been analyzed extensively by European authorities, who take it for granted that they enhance safety and yield economic benefits. The need for VTS is widely recognized and accepted in Europe, and governments are heavily involved in their development and operation. In addition, successful public/private partnerships are the rule rather than the exception. However, given that these relationships have an historical basis, it may be unreasonable to expect quick acceptance of partnering in the United States, where there is a traditional division between the public and private sectors. REFERENCES Anderson, J.H. 1996 . Testimony of John H. Anderson, Jr., director, Transportation Issues, Resources, Community, and Economic Development Division of the General Accounting Office, before the Subcommittee on Transportation of the Committee on Appropriations, House of Representatives, Washington, D.C., March 7, 1996 . Commission of the European Communities (CEC) . 1988 . COST-301, Shore-Based Marine Navigation Aid System . The Directorate General, Transportation, CEC, Luxembourg . Hinsch, Werner . 1996 . Personal communication to the committee by the Bundesverkehrsministerium, January 17 . Maddox, G. 1995 . Testimony by Gary Maddox, Tampa Port Authority . Pp. 23–25 in Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, First Session, June 29, 1995 . Washington, D.C. : U.S. Government Printing Office . 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 . Mizuki, N. , H. Yamanouchi , and Y. Fujii . 1989 . The Result of the Third
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VESSEL NAVIGATION AND TRAFFIC SERVICES FOR SAFE AND EFFICIENT PORTS AND WATERWAYS: Interim Report Survey on Vessel Traffic Services in the World . Tokyo, Japan : Electronic Navigation Research Institute, Ministry of Transport . National Ocean Service (NOS) . 1995 . Safe Passage into the 21st Century: Modernizing NOAA's Navigational Services . Silver Spring, Maryland : National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOS. National Research Council (NRC) . 1993 . Landside Access to U.S. Ports . Report prepared by Transportation Research Board, NRC, for the Maritime Administration and U.S. Department of Transportation . Washington, D.C. : National Academy Press . National Research Council (NRC) . 1994a . Minding the Helm: Marine Navigation and Piloting . Marine Board, NRC. Washington, D.C. : National Academy Press . National Research Council (NRC) . 1994b . Charting a Course into the Digital Era: Guidance for NOAA's Nautical Charting Mission . Marine Board, NRC. 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. April . Williams, K.A. 1995 . Testimony by Vice Admiral Kent H. Williams, chief of staff, U.S. Coast Guard. Pp. 6–8 in Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, First Session, June 29, 1995 . Washington, D.C. : U.S. Government Printing Office .
Representative terms from entire chapter: