Text of A reformatted text-only version of the brochure. View from the Bridge Troubled Waters Every day huge...
A reformatted text-only version of the brochure
View from the Bridge Troubled Waters 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withdrew its tide and tidal current charts from the port of New York and new Jersey because they had become seriously outdated and misleading. 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. Port of Seattle Library of Congress Our nations 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 NOAAs 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because dredging and filling change circulation patterns, even recently published data for some of our major ports are outdated.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 theyre carrying more oil and hazardous materials than ever before. These factors and othersmost notably, human errorcontribute 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 NOAAs charting budgets are steadly eroding. As the steward of safety on our nations 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 arent 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. 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. 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
ShipWhenWhereDamages Queen Elizabeth 2 (passenger liner) American Trader (tanker) Hyundai 12 (cargo vessel) Northumberland (fishing vessel) Glacier Bay (tanker) 1992 1990 1991 1989 1987 Vineyard Sound, MA Huntington Beach, CA Twelve Fathom Straits, AK Sabine Pass, TX Cook Inlet, AK $45 million, litigation pending $30 million, litigation pending $994,000, litigation pending 11 fishermen dead $50 million, litigation pending
Eighty percent of the nations top ten ports need extensive resurveying. For example, in Galveston Bay, which hasnt 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. (NOAAs tide and tidal current tables for the Bay may be off by as much as two hours.) 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 15 238 0 70 Top Ten U.S. Ports 1992 Commerce (millions of tons) Critical Survey Needs: Ports and Approaches (square miles) * includes ports along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and the Gulf of Mexico
NOAAs 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. 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.
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 NOAAs 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 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 NOAAs current nautical charts are based on data collected with a lead line or primitive echo sounders. The value of any charteither digital or paperlies in the accuracy of its information. Part of NOAAs 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 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 Bays 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 Using a side-scan sonar, the NOAA ship WHITING recently detected thirteen dangerous rocks (circled) in Nantucket Sound that were previously mis