New location

By Brian at October 17, 2012 16:26
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I'm going to move the blog to WordPress - here's the new location

Bear with me as I figure out the new site and transfer what I can from this one.

e-Navigation Underway 2012 - update

By Brian at January 20, 2012 12:27
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Unfortunately, I had trouble with the on-board internet during the conference which ended today, so I was unable to tweet or post to the blog. I took copious notes, which I will try to summarize and post in a few installments over the next few days.

In the meantme, EfficienSea is posting video of all the presentations; though they haven't got around to mine yet. But you get to listen to the dulcet Icelandic-accented tones of my good friend Omar Frits Eriksson and the other presenters at the beginning of the conference.

Now, a final evening in Copenhagen then return to the States tomorrow.

EfficienSea e-Navigation Underway 2012

By Brian at January 16, 2012 16:43
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I'm on my way to the EfficienSea e-Navigation Underway conference in Copenhagen. I attended this event last year and it was one of the best e-Nav events I've been to. I look forward to more of the same for this year: e-Navigation developers and practitioners exchanging experiences and ideas aboard a vessel where e-Navigation concepts are being tested.

I'm presenting on day 2 of the conference and plan to cover the following topics, although my presentation is a work in progress and will be informed by the presentations on the first day of the conference:

  • Brief overview of the U.S. e-Navigation Strategy
    • Stakeholders and their contributions to e-Navigation
    • Identification of areas that require coordination
  • Test beds and coordinated efforts:
    • Data standardization and information sharing
    • Within the federal government
    • Between government and industry
    • Public-private partnerships
  • Leveraging capabilities on the inland waterways
    • Ohio River test bed
    • Data exchange
    • Coordinated use of communication technologies
    • AIS
    • Web services
  • Lessons learned
  • Future plans
    • River Information Services

 

I plan to blog during the conference and will be tweeting as @maritimespatial - along with many others if last year is any indicator.

 

NOAA charges vessels with speeding - collects from three

By Brian at January 13, 2012 07:54
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On 10 January 2012 NOAA issued a press release stating that they had collected payment in full for three penalties issued last fall to vessels for violating speed restrictions off the east coast of the US. Six vessels were cited; presumably the other three are contesting the citations.

The speed restrictions were enacted to protect the endangered Right Whale, of which there are believed to be less then 400 remaining in the world. Details about the endangered whale and the efforts to protect them can be found here.

The release doesn't state, but I assume AIS data was used extensively, if not exclusively in the enforcement actions. One commenter on the gCaptain blog states that a vessel from his company was improperly cited. He reviewed a spreadsheet of data; it may have consisted of the AIS position reports transmitted by vessels suspected of violating the restrictions.

In addition to being used for tracking and enforcement, AIS is also being used to inform vessels about the presence of these whales.  Acoustic sensors off of Cape Cod detect the whales; the detections are used to trigger the creation of AIS application specific messages that are sent out from an AIS shore station. Vessels with charting systems that can decode these messages will be able to see on their charts the areas where whales have been detected.

Image from NOAA: http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/images/shipstrike/sma_nov1_midatl.jpg

 

USCG announces CRADA for alternative to GPS timing

By Brian at January 12, 2012 18:37
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In the Federal Register on January 11, 2012 the Coast Guard announced it was establishing an Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with UrsaNav, Inc. "to research, evaluate, and document... a wireless technical approach for providing precise time using U.S. government facilities and frequency authorizations."

The announcement said they plan to use old LORAN station locations and four frequency ranges:

  • LORAN frequencies (90-110 kHz)
  • dGPS frequencies (283.5-325 kHz)
  • HA-dGPS frequencies (435-490 kHz)
  • former international calling and distress frequency (500 kHz)
It will be interesting to see how this testing goes and to find out more about this technology. There has been a lot of speculation abut what the former LORAN and 500kHz distress frequencies would be used for and a lot of hopes they'd be used to expand communications bandwidth available for e-Navigation uses. Timing information is certainly a valuable component of e-Navigation and a reliable backup to GPS for timing is needed.

 

San Francisco Port Access Route Study "available"

By Brian at June 18, 2011 06:38
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The Coast Guard issued a "Notice of availability of study results" for the Port Access Route Study (PARS) condiucted off San Francisco recently.  The Notice includes a summary of the study's recommendations:

 

- Extend the northern TSS 17nm to the northern end of the VTS San Francisco area of responsibility

- Add a dog leg turn in the northern TSS just below the 38th parallel to keep vessels on a predictable path in a prime area for fishing.

- Change the current flared configuration of the northern TSS to a 3 mile wide approach. The 3 mile wide TSS would consist of 1 nautical mile wide lanes, separated by a 1 nautical mile wide separation zone.

- Extend the western TSS 3nm seaward to the 200 fathom contour at the edge of the continental shelf.

- Shift the seaward end of the outbound lane closest to the Farallon Islands in the western TSS 3.7 nautical miles to the south. No shift in the inbound lane of the western TSS.

- Change the current flared configuration of the western TSS to a 3 mile wide approach. The 3 mile wide TSS would consist of 1 nautical mile wide lanes, separated by a 1 nautical mile wide separation zone.

- Extend the southern TSS 8.5NM to the southern end of the VTS San Francisco area of responsibility.

 

A couple of observations:  First, it appears these changes were made to mainly address the concerns of fishing interests in the area.  This was probably directly related to the collision of a fishing vessel and a large ship in 2007 (if I recall correctly it was a few months before the COSCO BUSAN incident in November 2007).  Second, while there are a lot of references to VTS San Francisco and it's area of responsbiliy (VTS Area or VTSA), and several of the changes are to extend the TSS to the extent of the VTSA, I'm curious why no changes were proposed for the VTS itself, including expanding the VTSA? There are extensive fishing grounds both north and south of the current VTSA, and major shipping lanes: to the south, vessels transiting between SF Bay and LA-Long Beach, and to the north, vessesls headed to and from Northwest ports as well and those arriving and departing transpacific. With AIS, there is now the ability to track vessels pretty much along the entire coast of California, although the Coast Guard doesn't have full base station capability in this area. This PARS seems to have had the opportunity to look at US VTS in a new way, expanding their area to cover wider stretches of coast (as is done in many European areas and in Canada) possbly even integrating the operations of the VTS centers on the West Coast.

 

Try as I might, I have yet to be able to find the actual study on the regulations.gov website, despite the instructions in the Notice.  I'd like to see the study as it presumably will provide more explanation for these changes, which seem reasonable (although I'd like to see them charted in comparison with the current TSS).

I'll just have to wait until I can find that study...

 

 

Note: I have disabled comments on the blog due to extensive spam; I welcome any comments at: blog at maritimespatial dot com

Great Lakes and Ohio River Division Lockmasters Workshop

By Brian at May 24, 2011 14:11
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The Great Lakes and Ohio River Division Lockmasters Workshop is being held near Pittsburgh Tuesday through Thursday, 24-26 May. This will be an outstanding forum to hear the concerns and needs of the folks actually workng the locks on the inland waterways and Great Lakes.  There are about 45 attendees, most from the Great Lakes and Ohio River area, but also some from other waterways. So far they've covered lock operator training and have an ambitious agenda for the rest of the workshop.

I'll be giving a presentation Wednesday morning on AIS, River Information Services (RIS) and LOMA and I anticipate a lot of questons and hopefully some good discussion. One of our LOMA beta testers will also be presenting his impressions of LOMA, so I look forward to hearing his unvarnished view of how it's working for him.

Here's some information about LOMA:

I can be contacted through blog at maritimespatial dot com for more information and questions.

RTCM 2011 - Tuesday random items

By Brian at May 17, 2011 14:38
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I saw a brief demonstration of Pharos Marine Automatic Power's iNav AIS analysis software; according to their website: "The first AIS Analyzer software program that gives the AIS network administrator a valuable tool to monitor and analyze Class A, Class B, Base Station and Aton AIS transponder performance on the AIS VDL."  Here's an image from their product sheet:

This is the first time I have seen an actual AIS "slot map" depicted.  It is described in various standards and guidelines, but it always seemed very conceptual to me. It is interesting to see that, as implemented by Automatic Power, it looks a lot like what I had in my mind.

The software also includes other valuable analysis tools, such as graphs of slot usage and VDL loading. You can also dig deeper into the graphs to get data on who is using the slots and what messages are being used. I can really see the value of this particularly in high VDL load areas such as we are seeing in New Orleans. It will be a big help in VDL management, including determining FATDMA assignment and figuring out other ways to reduce VDL loading, such as identifying moored vessels that are still in an "underway" nav status, thus transmitting more frequently than they actually should.

 

The main focus for today at RTCM 2011 was on electronic charts - basic information on what they are, their use in various applications and the collection and production of ENCs.  A good refresher and some new information.

 

As usual at RTCM the discussions between presentations and in the vendor suites are as interesting and valuable as the meeting agenda.  Some of us discussed some potential innovative uses of AIS, such as vessels transmitting their depth sounder readings with their position report.  This might allow those entities responsible for surveys (e.g., NOAA and the Corps of Engineers in the US) to monitor waterway depths in real time and get advance notice of potential shoal areas without having to do an expensive survey on their own. Of course there are technical issues, such as ensuring calibration of the sensor, making sure the depth of the sensor is known, whether to create a new AIS message, use spare bits in an existing message or "repurpose" a field in an existing message.  And of course there are policy issues, such as what liability there is for use of these soundings, how to use this information for making survey and dredging decisions and many others.

RTCM 2011: USCG regulatory updates regarding AIS

By Brian at May 16, 2011 10:30
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Larry Solomon from the Coast Guard Spectrum Management office provided his usual informative presentation at the 2011 RTCM Annual Meeting regulatory update session.  He covered USCG proposed changes to Part 80 of the FCC rules which govern maritime communications in the US.

He briefly touched on some problems with the current Part 80 - it has been 25 years since the last comprehensive revision to the regs and there are substantial changes that should be made to make them more usable.  There also are issues with regulations that use "incorporation by reference" (IBR), where another document (e.g., a technical standard) is referenced rather than including the whole text in the regulation. There are approximately 30 IBR updates pending due to hold up at the Federal Register office. Ideally there would be a comprehensive review of the Part 80 rules, but USCG doesn't have the resources to do this (estimated at 6 months to a year's worth of work).

However, there is an interesting proposal to create a new subpart (the currently-unused Subpart Q) to the Part 80 regs solely for AIS regulations. Right now AIS requirements are in various parts of part 80; Subpart Q would gather them together, including: Class A, Class B (SO and CS), AIS-SART, AIS AtoN, AIS testing. One question is whether other aspects of AIS management would fit into this subpart?  Issues such as VDL management, the process for creation and use of application specific messages, and other uses (and prohibitions on use) of the AIS service.

Jorge Arroyo concluded the update with a tantalizing promise that the semiannual regulatory agenda - due to be published any day at reginfo.gov - would include news on the "Final Action" for the AIS carrige requirements regulation. The NPRM was published in December 2008, and final comments were collected by mid-2009. Hopefully this will give us a light at the end of the tunnel for the expansion of the AIS carriage requirements. Jorge also reminded us of the very informative AIS information website he helps maintain with the USCG Navigation Center.

America's Cup on San Francisco Bay

By Brian at February 02, 2011 11:53
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The organizers of the 34th America's Cup challenge have announced the racing area in San Francisco Bay.

It will be in the Central Bay, apparently in an area extending from the Golden Gate west of the bridge, between Alcatraz and Angel Island and just west of Treasure Island to the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.  There is an interesting "spur" of the indicated area just east of Angel Island that might indicate they plan to use the "A" buoy there as a mark.

The announcement says "America’s Cup Race Management will work with the U.S. Coast Guard to coordinate activities with other users of San Francisco Bay and to ensure that the deepwater channel will remain open during the event."  You can bet the Vessel Traffic Service will be deeply involved in this effort.  I wonder if they'd like to hire a VTS consultant with sailing experience to help them out with this event?  I might be able to recommend one...