View from the Bridge Troubled Waters Library of Congress Port of Seattle The S.S. Normandie arriving in New York harbor circa 1936. In those days, the average steamship was 460 feet long and 63 feet wide, with a draft of 26 feet. Today, modern ships are over 900 feet long and 100 feet wide, and have drafts of up to 60 feet. Their normal clearance from the bottom is often as small as 2 feet. Every day huge shipments move through major ports Throughout the U.S.—shipments such as time-critical container cargoes through the port of Seattle, as shown here, and vital petroleum supplies through east coast ports. NOAA recently withdrew its tide and tidal current charts from the port of New York and new Jersey because they had become seriously outdated and misleading. Our nation’s waters may not be as safe as most Americans think they are. In and surrounding many of our busiest ports, uncharted wrecks and obstructions silently wait to be discovered by hapless mariners. U.S. maritime laws and international agreements require our government to provide charts and related information “adequate to ensure safe navigation in U.S. waters.” Yet U.S. coastal waters have never been completely surveyed, and about 60 percent of NOAA’s nautical charts are based on pre-1940 data collected with obsolete technologies. Tidal predictions for many locations are also unreliable: two-thirds are based on data over forty years old, another 10 percent are over sixty years old, and a few even date from the turn of the century. And because dredging and filling change circulation patterns, even recently published data for some of our major ports are outdated.
Compounding these navigational hazards is the rapid, widespread growth of traffic on U.S. waters. Waterborne commerce has tripled since 1947, and the U.S. Department of Transportation projects that it will triple again over the next three decades. The number of recreational boaters has nearly doubled since 1970, crowding already over- flowing harbors. Economics of scale have driven the shipping industry toward investing in larger ships, and they’re carrying more oil and hazardous materials than ever before. These factors and others—most notably, human error—contribute to nearly 3,500 commercial shipping accidents every year in U.S. waters, and 6,400 recreational boating accidents. NOAA is the only producer of nautical charts for U.S. waters, although many other organizations reproduce these charts. NOAA charts are mandatory aboard all ships larger than 1,600 tons and are expected to be accurate and complete. The recent groundings of the Queen Elizabeth 2 in Vineyard Sound, Massachusetts, and the Glacier Bay in Cook Inlet, Alaska, have resulted in lawsuits against NOAA challenging its charts and survey methods. Under the current system, NOAA is barely treading water. Groundings, collisions, and spills are damaging and polluting our coastal environments, the backlogs of requests for new surveys and charts are growing relentlessly, and NOAA’s charting budgets are steadly eroding. As the steward of safety on our nation’s waters, NOAA must thoroughly modernize its navigational services to safeguard lives, preserve the environment, and enhance the growth of commerce at sea.
The Risky Business of Maritime Commerce Although maritime accidents aren’t as frequent as accidents on our roads, when they do happen, their toll is substantial: loss of lives and cargo, damage to species and sensitive ecosystems, shutdowns of ports and fisheries, rising insurance premiums and costly public relations to repair tarnished corporate images. Below are some examples of groundings in which the adequacy of charts, tide tables, or current tables was at issue. “From 1980 to 1988, tankers in the United States were involved in 468 groundings, 371 collisions, 97 rammings, 55 fires and explosions, and 95 deaths.” --Natural Resources Defense Council, No Safe Harbor On March 24, 1989, heading out from the port of Valdez, the EXXON Valdez left the channel and struck Bligh Reef, spilling 11 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound.
Ship When Where Damages $45 million, litigation pending $30 million, litigation pending $994,000, litigation pending 11 fishermen dead $50 million, litigation pending 1992 1990 1991 1989 1987 Vineyard Sound, MA Huntington Beach, CA Twelve Fathom Straits, AK Sabine Pass, TX Cook Inlet, AK Queen Elizabeth 2 (passenger liner) American Trader (tanker) Hyundai 12 (cargo vessel) Northumberland (fishing vessel) Glacier Bay (tanker)
Eighty percent of the nation’s top ten ports need extensive resurveying. For example, in Galveston Bay, which hasn’t been surveyed since 1937, large volumes of petrochemicals and coal products were spilled in the 1,240 groundings that occurred there between 1986 and 1991. Most of the groundings were caused by adverse tide and wind conditions. (NOAA’s tide and tidal current tables for the Bay may be off by as much as two hours.) Top Ten U.S. Ports 1992 Commerce (millions of tons) Critical Survey Needs: Ports and Approaches (square miles) Lower Mississippi, LA* Houston/Texas City.Galveston, TX New York and New Jersey Delaware Bay and River Valdez, AK Long Beach/Los Angeles, CA Norfolk/Newport News, VA Beaumont/Port Arthur, TX Corpus Christi, TX Tampa, FL 409 193 115 108 94 92 77 66 61 46 70 522 112 256 0 15 15 238 0 70 *includes ports along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and the Gulf of Mexico
Electronic Navigation The Wave of the Future Rapid advances in navigation technologies have opened a window of opportunity for promoting the sustainable economic growth of U.S. maritime trade and ensuring the protection of mariners and coastal ecosystems. State-of-the-art chart production, surveying, and navigational technologies can be integrated to create highly efficient, reliable navigational systems that promise to significantly reduce the risk of accidents while increasing the profitability of maritime commerce. Prototypes of these electronic systems are being used today on military, commercial, and recreational vessels. NOAA’s traditional system for revising charts entails thousands of hours of manual labor; double checking information, and manually engraving color separations. “New” charts roll of the press as long as ten months after compilation, during which many changes may have taken place in the area charted.
Automated Nautical Charts The increasing use of advanced technologies for navigation and piloting is creating a growing demand for digital nautical charts. NOAA is developing and testing a second- generation automated nautical charting system to enable production of its paper charts from a centralized digital nautical data base. Once the master data base is loaded, the automated system will allow for new editions of nautical charts and products to be issued more efficiently. It will enable NOAA to provide digital navigation products that can be customized with electronic chart systems. This flexibility will be integral to the success of NOAA’s modernization efforts. International regulations and U.S. law require commercial vessels over 1,600 tons to carry complete official charts or their approved equivalents. NOAA and the U.S. Coast Guard are closely working with the International Hydrographic Organization, the International Maritime Organization and other maritime nations to develop international performance standards for exchanging digital data. These standards will greatly facilitate the transition from paper charts to electronic chart systems.
State-of-the-Art Survey Technologies The value of any chart—either digital or paper—lies in the accuracy of its information. Part of NOAA’s mission is to chart and update some 95,000 miles of coastline and 3.5 million square nautical miles of oceans. Every year NOAA receives hundreds of requests for surveys of perceived navigational hazards. As the number of NOAA survey vessels and days at sea has declined because of budgetary constraints, the backlog of survey requests has grown to more than 1,000 since 1984, driving home the need for highly cost-effective, efficient, and accurate surveying technologies. Using state-of-the-art technologies, NOAA is finding significant navigational hazards in waters previously surveyed with conventional methods. For example, in Before 1930, oceanographers surveyed the ocean floor by throwing a knotted lead line over the side of the ship, recording the measured depth, and then taking another measurement a few meters farther along. Although this technology was surprisingly accurate, it was extremely time consuming and missed large and potentially hazardous areas of the ocean floor. About 60 percent of NOAA’s current nautical charts are based on data collected with a lead line or primitive echo sounders. April 1994, the NOAA ship RUDE, using a prototype shallow-water multibeam echo sounder, discovered an uncharted fifteen-foot shoal near the entrance to New Bedford harbor, where the current chart shows a depth of twenty-seven feet. In June 1994, the NOAA ship WHITING found nine uncharted wrecks and obstructions in Delaware Bay’s proposed traffic-separation lanes. And in June 1995, a survey done for NOAA discovered an obstruction in the shipping lanes of Long Island Sound rising from charted depths of nearly sixty feet to just eighteen feet below the surface.
Differential Global Positioning System For centuries, determining a vessel’s precise posi- tion has been a major challenge for surveyors and navigators. Using the old sextant and triangulation techniques, by the time a navigator fixed a plot on a chart, the vessel may have sailed several minutes beyond the plotted position. At sea, knowing where you were is not good enough, particularly in adverse weather conditions, when visibility is limited. This problem was overcome in 1993, when the Global Positioning System (GPS) became operational. Although initially designed for military use, GPS has proven invaluable for civil use as well. A far cry from traditional plotting methods, GPS satellites beam their signals from a fixed point on shore—such as a U.S. Coast Guard radio beacon—enable a ship to pinpoint its location within three to five meters. By 1996, the majority of U.S. waters should have differential GPS coverage. NOAA is working closely with the U.S. Coast Guard to ensure that the differen- tial GPS locations are accurately connected to charts through the National Spatial Reference System. Using a side-scan sonar, the NOAA ship WHITING recently detected thirteen dangerous rocks (circled) in Nantucket Sound that were previously missed by less accurate survey methods. The Sound is heavily trafficked by recreational boaters, large passenger ferries, commercial fishing boats and fuel oil barges supplying Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.
Multibeam echo • sounders collect wide • swaths of precise depth • data. (2) Side-scan sonar • detects hazards by producing • images of strips of the sea • floor. (3) Airborne laser • systems can provide an • accurate, cost-effective • alternative to sonar surveys • in many areas. (4) Satellite • signals are received simul- • taneously at the survey vessel and helicopter and a known point on shore. (5) Corrections to the satellite signals are instantaneously transmitted from shore to the survey vessel and helicopter, providing accurate positioning within three to five meters.
Real-Time Tide and Current Systems Half of the tidal stations in the country today are based on a system that requires going to the station and physically collecting tidal measure- ments recorded every six minutes on tape. The data are used to develop tidal datums and tidal prediction tables for the area. A port’s maritime mission is to maximize both the efficient movement of ocean-borne cargo and the safety of the vessels visiting its shores. Whether channels are dredged through soft sediment or carved in granite, deepening or widening them is very difficult and costly. As the average size of today’s commercial ships continues to grow, the margins between their bottoms and the floors Mechanical tidal gauges were first used in the U.S. in the 1850’s. This old wooden station, used in 1897 in Fort Hamilton, NY, is one of the earliest examples of a real-time, tide- measuring mechanism. On entering or leaving the port, mariners would view this station through binoculars to check the water level. of the channels they sail through are shrinking. Maneuverability is increasingly restricted, raising the risk of oil spills and accidents involving other hazardous materials. The growing unacceptability of this risk can be seen in today’s soaring cleanup and liti- gation costs. Yet, accompanying the demand for enhanced environmental protection is industry’s shift to “just-in-time” manufacturing, along with strong consumer demand for competitive prices. Because of uncertainty about tides and currents, large commercial carriers and tankers are delayed at ports and offshore as they wait for optimal transit conditions.
Physical Oceanographic Real- Time Systems allow ships to access real-time nautical data from a variety of instruments at several locations in ports and harbors. (1) The Acoustic Dop- pler Current Profiler (ADCP) measures the speed and direction of the current at various depths between the surface of the water and the sea floor. (2) A receiver near the ADCP transmits the information to a central receiving 3 4 2 Keeping Current With Real-Time Technologies 1 station, which may be many miles away. (3) NOAA water-level stations throughout the area automatically relay to computers at the central receiving station information on water levels, winds, and water temperatures. (4) The central receiving station makes this information avail- able to the public via telephone using a voice data system, via PC/modem dial-up systems, and via Internet. The National Weather Service also accesses this information for broadcast over NOAA Weather Radio.
With state-of-the art digital technologies, real-time and predicted tide and current information is available by telephone or computer. This data plot from Baltimore Harbor shows the great disparity between the predicted astronomical tides (blue), which do not include the effects of winds and river flows, and the actual tides (red), which can be predicted by modern techniques. With accurate, real-time information and modern forecasts, newer, deeper-draft ships can safely adjust loads to use the available draft margins. Physical Oceanographic Real-Time Systems (PORTS) allow ships—berthed or under way—to access real-time data from a variety of instruments that measure currents, winds, and waves, along with water levels (tides), depths, temperatures, and salinity. These data enable much more accurate tide and current predictions, reducing travel delays and increasing traffic-handling capabilities. They are also instrumental in preventing and responding to spills of hazardous materials and oil, predicting coastal floods, and conducting scientific research. The success of PORTS in Tampa Bay, FL, is fueling support for the establishment of these systems at other ports around the country.
Electronic Chart Systems This close-up of an electronic chart system displays precise information on the ship’s position, course, speed, draft, soundings, way points, and warning system. The circles show the ship’s distance from various fixed points and other vessels. The dotted red line shows the ship’s planned route; the solid white line, the actual course taken; and the dotted yellow line, the pro- jected course of the ship if it doesn’t turn at the specified point. Electronic chart systems will radically change the face of maritime navigation. They can accurately display a vessel’s real-time location, automatically update that information every one to two seconds, and distinguish among floating aids to navigation, vessels, and points of land. Radar images can be superimposed on thse “smart charts,” along with data from real-time tide, current, and marine weather-forecasting systems. And by analyzing a vessel’s course and speed and the nautical chart data, these systems can instantaneously detect hazards, estimate how long it would take torun into them, and automatically sound an alarm. The simplest electronic chart system can be run on an inexpensive laptop computer, while fully functional systems require more sophisticated computer interfaces and displays. The former are already being used by yachtsmen and small fishing vessels, and the latter by large ships, such as tankers, freighters, and ferries. Although the simplest electronic chart systems don’t support all the functions of their more sophisticated counterparts, they meet the safety needs of many small vessels and can cost less than a thousand dollars.
Hailed as the most significant advance in navigation since the advent of radar, electronic charts can provide mariners with all the information they need for safe and efficientnavigation. This electronic system aboard the Clipper Cruise Lines’ NANTUCKET CLIPPER” gives the captain both a broad overview and detailed close-ups of navigational aids and hazards in the surrounding area. A joint U.S.—Canadian study of West Coast shipping completed in July 1990 found that electronic chart systems could reduce the total number of acci- dents by 15-19 percent. Recent analysis by the Marine Policy Center in Woods Hole, MA, produced similar estimates of preventable accidents and indicated that using electronic charts could avert losses averaging $3 million a day. The U.S. Coast Guard and NOAA are participating in a joint government—industry pro- ject to demonstrate, test, and evaluate the Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS). By dramatically increasing the speed, ease, and accuracy of performing navi- gational tasks and help navigators concentrate on avoiding collisions and groundings. Today’s most sophisticated systems incorporate artificial intelligence. A prototype system is in use in tanker operations on the West Coast. If no one aboard responds to the automatic alarm built into the electronic chart system, the system gives the ship a rudder command and the ship automatically turns away from the hazard.
In August 1993, the cruise ship Yorktown Clipper struck a charted, underwater rock in Glacier Bay. Although the 175 passengers and crew members escaped injury, and the pristine environment of Glacier Bay National Park remained unspoiled, the ship’s hull was ruptured in several places, with damages amounting to about $3 million. The National Transportation Safety Board found that the accident’s probable causes were failure to plot the ship’s courses and positions and inadequate oversight of the ship’s navigation. It noted that an electronic chart system would reduce the risk of groundings by providing watch officers a continuous, accurate display of their position and by giving them “more time and better information for projecting any proposed maneuver and judging its consequences.” The repaired Yorktown Clipper now has an electronic chart system, even though full approval and availability of certified digital data are yet to come. “If an electronic charting system and the DGPS (differential global positioning system) had been available and installed on inland towing vessels such as the Mauvilla, the accident at the Big Bayou Canot railroad bridge could have been avoided.” --National Transportation Safety Board In September 1993, in a dense fog near Mobile, Alabama, the tug Mauville and its barge rammed into a railroad bridge, causing the subsequent derailment of an Amtrack train. Of the 210 passengers, 47 were killed and numerous others were injured.
Potential Losses of Natural Resources From Spills of Hazardous Commodities Every day ships carry hazardous commodities into U.S. ports. A spill the size of the Exxon Valdez spill, shown along the East and West Coasts of the United States, would have devastating consequences for our nation’s marine sanctuaries and estuarine reserves—not to mention the millions of tourist dollars lost from beach closings. S.C.Delaney/U.S.EPA
S.C. Delaney/U.S.EPA The table that follows estimates (in 1990 dollars) damages from spills of hazardous cargo as they relate to fourteen categories of fish, sea birds, and marine mammals. It accounts for lost revenue from the closing of shellfish beds, decreases in the size and productivity of fisheries, changes in fish market prices, and effects on seafood pro- cessors and other supporting businesses.
Spill Size Zone Commodity Small Catastrophic (8,000 gal.) (4,000,000 gal.) Mobile, AL Anchorage/Cook Inlet, AK San Francisco, CA Tampa, FL Chesapeake North/Baltimore, MD Wilmington, NC Philadelphia/Delaware Bay, PA Providence, RI Houston/Galveston, TX Puget Sound, WA Gasoline Crude Gasoline #1 Fuel Oil Gasoline Alcohol #6 Fuel Oil Gasoline Alcohol Gasoline $435,000 432,000 134,000 153,000 16,000 841,000 127,000 84,000 10,339,000 26,000 $1,818,032,000 20,920,000 232,032,000 47,486,000 764,636,000 258,592,000 63,712,000 459,760,000 1,055,704,000 75,984,000 Sources: Alaska Fish and Game, vol.21, no.4, U.S. Coast Guard, Port Needs Study.
In the Race for Modernization All Winners Historically, the shipping industry and the military have been the primary users of NOAA’s navigational services. Over the years, their demand for accurate, reliable navi- gational information and services has grown steadily with the nation’s economic and military strength. Many other users – commercial fishermen, tug’ and barge operators, recreational boaters, the survey community, and coastal zone managers, engineers, and scientist – have benefited as well, along with society at large. NOAA’s modernization program is essential to the efficient provision of today’s and tomorrow’s navigational services. All of these groups will be winners in safer, more predictable waters. Commercial Shipping The health of maritime commerce is critical to the health of the U.S. economy. More than 98 percent of our nation’s foreign trade by weight is carried by sea. In 1990, 850 million tons of cargo valued at $500 billion moved through our waterways and in 1991 the commercial shipping industry supported 1.5 million jobs, provided personal income of $52 billion, and generated $14 billion in federal taxes and $5.3 billion in state and local taxes. While foreign trade accounts for more than 20 percent of our national’s gross domestic product today, it is expected to climb to 30 percent by the year 2000.
Efficiency and safety dictate the bottom line of today’s intensely competitive shipping industry. Shipping delays caused by taking longer routes around poorly charted areas or waiting for confirmation of uncertain tides can cost the industry as much as $3,000 an hour. Inches matter. The coal industry, for example, can be seriously damaged if ships can’t be fully loaded or if smaller vessels have to be used. And the cleanup and environ- mental costs of an oil spill continue to rise. The potential for environmental damage from future oil spills is significant, given that petroleum and petroleum-related products account for over half of the total ton-miles of all waterborne commodities, and our nation’s dependence on imported oil continues to grow. Largly in response to the EXXON Valdez grounding, Congress enacted the Oil Spill Prevention Act in 1990, requiring all oil tankers to have double hulls by 2015. The incremental cost of this retrofitting is estimated to be $10-$20 billion. Although double hulls should reduce the volume of spills by about 70 percent, they won’t prevent accidents and about 30 percent of the oil carried by the ships in those accidents will still escape into our waters. Analysis of the Valdez voyage has shown four distinct points at which an alarm would have sounded if an electronic chart system had been in use. When compared to EXXON’s estimated $3 billion cleanup cost, the $100,000 price tag for the most sophisticated electronic chart system (or even the $160 million cost for modernizing NOAA’s navi- gational services) might be viewed as a mere drop in the ocean.
Real-World Profits from Real-Time Technologies The international trend in commercial shipping is toward fewer but larger vessels. With better information about water levels, currents, and obstructions, the newer deeper-draft ships can enter U.S. harbors and carry more cargo for export. The Association of Maryland Pilots recently raised Baltimore’s maximum draft from 39.5 feet to 41 feet—a direct result of the pilots’ use of real-time water-level data from NOAA gauges in Chesapeake Bay. Similar impacts have been seen in the Delaware River and Bay System, in Portland, Oregon, and in Tampa, Florida. Estimated revenue increases range from $36,000 to $288,000 for each additional foot of draft for large bulk and container ships. National economic models indicate that if port shoaling or uncertainty about water levels added one percent to the cost of crude petroleum imports, $3.1 billion would be lost from our gross domestic product, alone with 61,000 jobs. “…had it (ECDIS) been installed on the EXXON Valdez, that ill-fated tanker likely would never have run aground.” --Technology Review, October 1994
National Defense Because of its ongoing need to maintain sea power, the U.S. military will be a primary beneficiary of NOAA’s modernization program. Over 40 percent of the charts NOAA publishes are purchased by the U.S. military. Charts and data necessary to submarine and surface navigation are used by the Navy in training exercises and are essential to military preparedness. During Operation Desert Storm/Desert Shield, the most intensive buildup of American forces in history, U.S. ports handled two-thirds of the military cargo. U.S. Navy The U.S. Navy is committed to outfitting the bridges on all of its ships with electronic chart systems over the next four to five years. The navigational information the military depends on today is incomplete, and six of the Navy’s home ports critically need more accurate and reliable data. For example, Norfolk naval base, the largest naval port in the world, houses a vast fleet of deep-draft ships and is a major thoroughfare for large commercial ships and barge traffic. Numerous obstructions throughout the area need investigation, and the port’s sandy, silty bottom is constantly changing. With contemporary surveys, a fully operational real-time marine forecasting system, and electronic charts on the bridges of all of its ships, the U.S. Navy will be in a far better position to respond quickly and efficiently to military emergencies.
Commercial Fishing Commercial fishing is one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States. Each year an average of 250 fishing vessels are lost along the Atlantic, Gulf, Pacific, and Alaskan coasts, and over 100 fisherman lose their lives at sea. Alarmed by these statistics, Congress passed the Commercial Fishing Industry Vessel Safety Act of 1988, including a requirement that fishing vessels on the high seas carry nautical charts and a full set of navigational equipment. Many fishing accidents are caused by human error and occur in remote areas that are poorly charted. Electronic chart systems with accurate data can help fishermen reduce groundings by 80 percent. Besides making navigation safer for commercial fisherman, modernizing NOAA’s navigational services will increase their operational efficiency by reducing gear damage and losses from accidents and will boost their productivity by facilitating their search for fishing grounds. Commercial fishermen will also reap benefits from the environmental protection that modernized navigation affords. When the Glacier Bay grounded in Cook Inlet in 1987, spilling 130,000 gallons of oil, the local fishery was closed for the entire year, resulting in $50 million in damages and lost revenues, and decreases in the size and productivity of the fishery. By making navigation safer Commercial fishing is a major national industry. In 1992, about 9.6 billion pounds of fish, valued at about $3.7 billion, were landed at U.S. ports. Today, commercial fishing operations employ over 364,000 people and supply thousands of supermarkets, speciality stores and restaurants throughout the country.
for commercial shippers, electronic technologies will reduce the risk of spills of oil and hazardous materials and thus will protect national fishing grounds and nurseries. Recreational Boating and Tourism Between 1970 and 1993, the number of recreational boats owned by Americans nearly doubled—from 8.8 million to 16.5 million. This increase in the number of mariners who navigate in areas not frequented by commercial shippers or the military has heightened the need for modern navigational services and new charts. Because recreational boaters have limited storage space, they often navigate without information and tools critical to their safety. With electronic chart software that can run on laptop computers, all the necessary navigational infor- mation is available in one easy-to-use, compact format that shows shoreside features and services. Although the number of fatalities from recreational boating has decreased over the last thirty years, accidents and injuries have steadily climbed and the reported property damages have increased sevenfold to $35 million. Electronic navigational technologies will help yachtsmen safeguard their lives and their investments.
Private Value-Added Sectors Products developed by the U.S. government are not copyrighted. They can be freely reproduced or modified to fit particular applications. About a dozen U.S. companies copy NOAA charts and repackage them in a variety of formats for resale. If NOAA were unable to conduct the surveys and construct the charts on which these off-shoots are based, these companies wouldn’t have the resources to produce the products they do today. The strong demand for modern navigational systems and the clear opportunities for exploiting leading-edge technologies have prompted several companies to test the waters. The new industries that will result from the continued demand will create skilled jobs, personal income and tax revenue.
Coastal Management and Research The increasing use of geographic information systems by government agencies, coastal managers, engineers, and scientists is fueling the demand for digital data from nautical charts and marine-forecasting systems that they can customize to meet their diverse needs. Tidal datums, which define all legal boundaries along coastal areas, are becoming essential to all legislators and decision makers for coastal resource development and management, transportation, recreation, public works projects and emergency planning and evacuation. By analyzing digital chart data, coastal managers can calculate how far from the high-tide line real estate developers should construct new buildings and accom- panying infrastructure to protect them against erosion and floods. Or they can develop maps that identify wetlands, local sources of pol- lution, and other data critical for the sustained vitality of the area’s natural resources. Photogrammetric mapping of coastlines can provide information for managing cleanup activities, characterizing benthic communities and marine habitats, measuring nearshore topography, assessing environmental damage, and delineating shorelines.
Reinventing NOAA’s Navigational Mission Launching a New Era Steadily decreasing resource levels have forced severe cutbacks in NOAA’s navigational services. At the present level of effort and using current techniques, surveying today’s critical areas would take forty years. NOAA’s modernization strategy would more than double productivity, with only a 50 percent increase in resources.
Over the past decade, NOAA’s resources for performing its basic ongoing mission have been steadily eroding. As electronic chart systems become standard equipment on commercial vessels and as local, national, and international authorities certify their use, the demand for NOAA to modernize its navigational services will rise dramatically. The challenge for NOAA will be to increase the quantity, quality and speed of delivering these services for the same amount of money or less than it is spending today. NOAA has devised a five-year modernization strategy that could achieve this vision and at the same time eliminate the backlogs that are inundating its staff. NOAA’s current annual budget for providing navigational services and products is approximately $50 million. Modernization would cost an additional $30 million a year over five years. Beyond that point, the efficiencies of a thoroughly electronic operation would kick in, and NOAA’s current resource levels should be sufficient to fully respond to future demand. Federal funding will constitute a major portion of NOAA’s modernization investment portfolio. NOAA will also explore the potential for sharing costs with other federal, state, and local agencies; entering into public-private partnerships; using Cooperative Research and Development Agreements; contracting for services; and commercializing its products. In the true spirit of reinventing government, this modernization will pave the way for entrepreneurs to transform the business of providing navigational products and services.
NOAA’s Five-Year Modernization Strategy • Modernize surveying services - $40 M • Accelerate surveying of areas of critical need around major harbors and their approaches. • Use state-of-the-art sonar and laser survey technologies and platforms to obtain more • extensive coverage with greater detail. • Ensure the quality of survey data from NOAA ships and a wide range of other sources, • including contracts, cooperative projects, and partnerships. • Modernize nautical charting services - $30 M • Fully load the automated charting system data base. • Convert to digital production of paper charts and electronic chart data. • Accelerate publication of new and revised chart products. • Modernize marine forecasting services - $30 M • Develop PORTS capability in ten major U.S. ports. • Complete modernization of the National Water Level Observation Network with the • Next Generation Water Level Measurement System. • Modernize tidal prediction products. • Maintain a National Water Level and Coastal Circulation Data Center. • Modernize survey fleet - $60 M • Replace the three remaining survey ships.
Collecting Survey and Real-Time Data State and local coastal resource managers are seeking more complete and more current digital data for nautical charts in their areas and for other applications related to coastal management. NOAA has begun to form alliances with these managers to support the collection of local navigational and survey data. For example, NOAA recently arranged a partnership with the New York-New Jersey Port Authority, the Sandy Hook Pilot’s Association, and the Coast Guard to provide real-time observations and forecasting at Bergen Point, the most hazardous turn in the New York-New Jersey harbor. And through cooperative efforts with local interest groups, real-time data are now available on the water levels of the Columbia River and the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. Other ports and shipping lanes can be similarly served through arrangements for joint operation and maintenance. NOAA will take advantage of is authority to retain private contractors to conduct hydrographic surveys to NOAA specifications. NOAA will also work closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Geological Survey to share data and to avoid duplication of efforts. The goal will be to ensure that all of the most critical areas in the contiguous United States are surveyed within five years of imple- menting the modernization strategy (ten years for Alaska). At the same time, NOAA will maintain an in-house, state-of-the-art capability for collecting hydrographic data to enable it to set standards, train personnel, develop and test advanced technology, and meet national requirements.
Disseminating NOAA’s Nautical Products To satisfy user demands better and more efficiently, NOAA will explore partnerships with private companies that will print, publish, and distribute its nautical charts and information products. By using market forces and creating new business opportunities, NOAA will ensure that the public’s needs for navigational products are met efficiently. “The key to successfully responding to these challenges is for NOAA to focus its nautical charting program activities on the tasks associated with building and managing the nautical information data base and to seek partnerships with the private sector and other federal and state agencies in fulfilling the other components of the nautical charting mission: collection of survey data and product dissemination.” --National Research Council Fully developing partnerships for disseminating NOAA’s nautical products will most likely require new tools to protect intellectual property rights. Because NOAA may lack the legal authority to license its data, in most cases legislation would have to be enacted to encourage the private-sector investments needed to produce new products by giving them exclusivity or protection. NOAA would also need to develop processes for certifying data products for navigational uses. Several possible complementary routes exist within this broad approach, including:
Copyrighting nautical charts. • Supplying raw digital data to private printing ventures, and collecting royalties or • license fees based on privately copyrighted product sales. • Changing the cost recovery law to allow NOAA to retain the funds recovered from the • sale of charts and other products and invest them in program development. • Obtaining royalties from the dissemination of products developed through Cooperative • Research and Development Agreements. Managing the Nautical Information Data Base The keystone of NOAA’s modernization strategy will be the design, construction, and maintenance of NOAA’s master nautical data base. With additional resources, this job can be completed within five years. After that point, the data base can be maintained with existing resource levels by using the automated systems now being developed. The data base will support the efficient and timely production of new and revised charts NOAA has signed an agreement with BSB Electronic Charts to perform cooperative research on the development of electronic nautical charts, systems, software, and other related matters. Shown here is a prototype for the raster chart image that BSB expects to commercialize upon completion of joint NOAA/BSB research and development work.
and data products that are fully consistent with international units, standards, and quality levels. Water-level and current sensors around the nation will be connected through networks to a National Water Level and Coastal Circulation Data Center. This will ensure the consistency and quality of data and forecasts that are vital to today’s and tomorrow’s marine commerce. Digitizing nautical survey data for incorporation into the charting data base is highly labor intensive. To date, only 5 percent of the data for NOAA’s suite of 1,000 nautical charts has been loaded into the data base.
Through Modernization Sustainable Development NOAA’s mission to provide navigational services began in 1807, when Thomas Jefferson formed the Survey of the Coast. As technological break-throughs have revolutionized marine navigation over the years, NOAA’s strategy for fulfilling this mission has simultaneously evolved. While maritime navigation will always be hazardous, new electronic technologies promise to help mariners significantly reduce the risk of accidents and spills. By over- hauling America’s marine transportation infrastructure, these technologies will heighten the competitiveness of U.S. ports and the shipping industry and will inject new vitality into the nation’s economy. And they will be critical in supporting the environmental Photo Inset: American President Lines
stewardship roles of coastal zone planners, regulatory officials, and researchers as they work to ensure the safe, sustainable, and efficient development of our coastal and ocean resources. A clean and safe environment, together with sustained economic security, are the most concrete manifestations of what all Americans deserve. They are the goals of sustainable development.
This brochure was prepared by the National Ocean Service (NOS), the primary federal civilian agency responsible for the observation, measurement, assessment and management of the nation’s coastal and ocean areas. NOS serves as the trustee for these resources and provides products and services that protect millions of lives, billions of dollars in property, and irreplaceable natural resources.