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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eNavigation 2010 underway in Seattle

By Brian at November 16, 2010 14:43
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The 2010 eNavigation conference is underway at the Bell Harbor Conference Center in Seattle.  About 100 participants have already been treated to presentations on identifying problems related to eNav.  Throughout the conference we will work on how to address these problems.

You can follow the conference on this blog and through Twitter - I'll be posting as @MaritimeSpatial and using the #eNav2010 hash tag.  Join the conversation!

Save the date - eNavigation 2010 Seattle 16-17 November 2010

By Brian at August 28, 2010 09:45
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Each fall since 2001, Pacific Maritime Magazine has hosted an extrordinary conferencee on navigtion technology.  It originally started as a conference about AIS; at the time there was a lot of uncertainty in the operational maritime community about what AIS was and how it would affect them.  There had been many other conferences and meetings where AIS was a topic, but they had primarily been focused on the technical development of AIS, and not on how it would actually be used, involving actual mariners and vessel owners and operators.

The implementation of AIS via international and national rules was rapidly approaching; and the timeline for implementation was accelerated by the events of September 11th, 2001, which occurred just before the first conference.  The organizers of the first AIS conference sought to present the non-techincal side of AIS, bringing government representatives to discuss what the regulatory requirements would be, mariners to discuss what they expected and feared from the new technology and industry representatives to discuss what they anticipated the effect would be on them and the maritime industry.

As the concept of e-Navigation developed, the conference organizers recognized that AIS was part of something bigger, so in the mid-2000s the name and focus of the conference was changed.  This year's conference will move the discussion of e-Navigation further, taking a deeper look at the potential problems that may be addressed by e-Navigation, or that may even arise through the implementation of e-Navigation.

You can see the initial agenda here and get informtion about logistics, registration, sponsorship; below are some brief details:


eNavigation 2010:
Technology, Policy and People - Building the Foundation for Fully-Integrated Application
When: November 16-17, 2010
Where: Bell Harbor Conference Center, Seattle, WA USA

Through interactive discussion, presentation of case studies and examination of real world application of navigational technology, eNavigation 2010 will focus on the identification of the gaps between the technologies and the users of that technology with an eye toward collaboratively closing those gaps.
The conference will address:
    * What problems have been found and how does misuse, operator intimidation of system complexity and unobserved systemic failure contribute to modern day casualties?
    * How do we integrate data into the performance of traditional mariners’ skills, in compliance with regulations with and good seamanship?
    * How do we reconcile what mariners need with what manufacturers produce?
    * What can be learned from ongoing uses of eNavigation technology by governments and other shore-based activities?

eNavigation users, afloat and ashore, Regulators, and technology providers are invited to an interactive continuation of the world’s only user-oriented eNavigation conference.

As the conference agenda develops, I'll be posting more information and raising issues that will be open for discussion at the conference.  Of course, check the eNavigation 2010 website for periodic updates.

AIS text messaging Marine Safety Alert

By Brian at May 31, 2010 07:05
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The Coast Guard posted a Marine Safety Alert (.pdf) on AIS text messaging that Jorge Arroyo mentioned during his presentation at the RTCM Annual Meeting a couple of weeks ago (noted in this post). The alert covers three areas of AIS use by vessels:

  • Navigation -  while AIS can serve as a valuable situational awareness tool to aid in collision avoidance, the "use of AIS text messaging does not relieve the vessel of other requirements, such as the Vessel Bridge-to-Bridge Radiotelephone regulations or of the requirements to sound whistle signals and display lights or shapes in accordance with the International or Inland Navigation Rules."
  • Emergencies - the alert warns against the use of AIS text messages for distress communications, particularly as a substitute for communications via GMDSS equipment.
  • Proper operation - the alert notes that "AIS is only as good as the information provided and exchanged, therefore, users must ensure their unit is always in effective operating condition and broadcasting accurate information" and reminds operators of their obligation to keep dynamic, static and voyage-related AIS data up-to-date.  It provides a link (.pdf) to a guide on shipboard AIS data entry.

There have been stories floating around that AIS has been improperly used in the manner cautioned against in the alert, including at least one investigation (.pdf;  see p. 28) that mentions vessels attempting to contact each other via AIS rather than by radiotelephone resulting in a collision - the so-called "AIS-assisted collision" that has been speculated about since the introduction of AIS.

The use of AIS in emergencies touches on the contentious issue of a navigation system being used for distress purposes - something that we'll likely see more about, as AIS SARTS, AIS equipped EPIRBS and other distress equipment is integrated with AIS.

The complaint heard most often about AIS is thet you can't trust it - we've all heard stories of incorrect vessel names, MMSIs and other data, as well as vessels apparently sailing "sideways" due to improper entry of dimensions or incorrect heading input devices.  This alert is a welcome reminder about these problems and hopefully will help mariners comply with the requirement for proper operation of AIS equipment.

I sure hope this isn't the direction e-Navigation is taking us...

By Brian at April 13, 2010 06:18
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This story is slim on details but I don't think these are the systems that need to be integrated on the bridge...

I'm hoping to find the atual investigation report that is mentioned in this (and other) articles, but no luck so far.

21 years ago today…

By Brian at March 24, 2010 08:01
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…the EXXON VALDEZ ran aground in Prince William Sound.  The reaction to the grounding and subsequent oil spill changed the way the United States and the world dealt with maritime safety.   The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 was a direct result, as was state legislation and establishment of agencies charged with oil spill prevention in California, Washington, Alaska and other states.  These laws and subsequent regulations resulted in substantial improvements in maritime safety and arguably spurred the development of navigation technology, such as electronic navigational charts (ENC) and automatic identification systems (AIS), that are in greater and greater use today.  The development of these technologies may well have languished if not for the attention the incident focused on navigation safety.

Many of the projects we’ve worked on originated with the EXXON VALDEZ incident, and subsequent efforts to improve navigation safety.  These include improvements in vessel traffic services (VTS) technology, VTS operations and VTS regulations; implementation of vessel routing schemes to protect the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary; and expanding the use of AIS for navigation safety.

(Thanks to Denny Bryant for inspiring this post with his annual entry about it on his excellent blog)