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 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...



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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...


Finally! VTS LMR is "legal"

By Brian at November 25, 2010 10:18
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On October 28th, the US Coast Guard published a final rule establishing Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) Lower Mississippi River.  I quote from the text:

"On April 26, 2000, the Coast Guard published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) entitled ``Vessel Traffic Service Lower Mississippi River'' "

No, that is not a typo - the NPRM was published over 10 years before the final rule came out.  Of course a lot happened in the intervening time - the events of 9/11/2001, hurricane Katrina, the development and implementation of AIS and a general change in the way VTS and shore-based monitoring and surveillance was perceived.  However, there was also a major slowdown in the implementation of new regulations under the existing administration as well as effects from the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security, which had a hard time seeing the importance of safety regulations.

It's good to see this regulation finally come out, making VTS New Orleans "legal," and kudos go to those who worked behind the scenes for so many years on it.  However, there are still at least three other US VTSs without regulations, and I don't think an NPRM has even been published for them yet.

An old photo of VTS LMR I took around the time the NPRM was issued - note the large CRT screens (long since replaced with flat screens).