Seaports Magazine - Summer 2013 - (Page 29)

» guesT VieWPoinT improving safety and Efficiency through PORTS® The support system provides real-time data on water level, currents, bridge air gap and other critical information at 21 locations across the country By Richard Edwing Director, NOAA’s Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services u .S. ports and the marine transportation system are critical for the U.S. economy. Seventy-six percent by weight of all international commerce is carried by ships and passes through our ports. Yet ports and shippers face challenges. according to the army Corps of engineers, the volume traffic for marine ports is expected to double by 2021, and double again shortly after 2030. Vessels are increasing in size, getting deeper and taller. the long anticipated completion of the panama Canal expansion project will bring larger post-panamax vessels to U.S. ports. these larger ships are pushing the limits of channels and bridges. Mariners require accurate real-time information to operate safely and efficiently. Noaa’s physical oceanographic real-time System (portS®) was developed in response to the 1980 Sunshine Skyway Bridge accident in tampa, Fla., where the lack of information on conditions directly contributed to an accident that resulted in a high loss of life and property. portS® was first established in tampa in 1991, and today, portS® has expanded to 21 locations around the country. portS® is a decision support tool that, when used by knowledgeable pilots and vessel masters, improves the safety and efficiency of maritime commerce. portS® provides real-time observations of water levels, currents, salinity, winds, atmospheric pressure, air and water temperatures, bridge air gap (distance from water to the bottom of the bridge), visibility and waves that mariners need to navigate safely. portS® information can be used to make economic decisions for loading or lightering cargo or to adjusting transit schedules based upon availability of water depth, strength of currents and clearance under bridges. portS® come in many sizes and configurations, each specifically designed to meet local user requirements. the largest has more than 100 instruments, while the smallest is a single waterlevel and weather instrument. portS® information is accessible to mariners in a variety of user-friendly formats, including telephone voice response and Internet. all data and products are continuously monitored and reviewed by automated systems and experienced operators. When a problem is detected, the dissemination of the data is immediately halted and corrective action initiated. portS® is a partnership program in which Noaa provides program management, data collection and dissemination infrastructure, continuous quality control, new technology development and national standards. the local partner provides the system requirements and funding for the local equipment, installation and annual operations and maintenance of the equipment. Studies have found use of portS® information reduces risk to life and property and facilitates more efficient flow of commerce. those using portS® have found significant benefits to both safety and efficiency. Fifty percent reductions in groundings have been reported as shippers are able to make better decisions on the amount of cargo to load or lighter. the Baltimore Domino Sugar plant and the New York City subway system monitor their portS® to make decisions on when to shut down operations if flooding appears imminent. Mobile attributed an avoided accident to its new portS® within weeks of it going live. Jacksonville, using an air gap sensor, was able to ensure that large cruise ships could pass safely beneath a bridge under construction without having to divert to another port. those constrained by draft have used portS® to time their arrival for high tide while those with superstructure that will pass too close to a bridge have timed their arrival for low tide. Where portS® real-time data is available, Noaa is developing a national network of advanced hydrodynamic models to provide short-term forecasts of water levels, currents, salinity and water temperature to enable users to more accurately plan their vessel loading and movements. Before release, the data undergoes rigorous quality control. Noaa has implemented these models at 13 locations with more scheduled. to enhance the value of portS® data, others have developed applications to aid in optimizing loading and scheduling of transits over shoal areas and under bridges. the port of portland has developed LoaDMaX, and texas a&M Conrad Blucher Institute has developed “transit time.” portS® is a key element of our marine transportation system information infrastructure – and it works. Noaa has 21 operational portS® servicing 55 seaports with several more in development. Studies have found use of portS® information reduces risk to life and property and facilitates more efficient flow of commerce. ● Richard Edwing is director of NOAA’s Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services. Contact him at Richard. For further information see the PORTS® website suMMer 2013 29

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Seaports Magazine - Summer 2013

AA PA Headquarters
From the President’s Desk
Sourcing Near and Far
Partnering at Home to Encourage Trade Growth
Cruise Info on the Go
Community Ties
AA PA Gathers in D.C. for Spring Conference
Washington Poised to be Leader in Global Economy
Creating Agile Supply Chain Networks in Today’s Fast-Changing World
TTI: Costs of Delaying Channel Maintenance are High
Improving Safety and Efficiency through PORTS®
Seaports are at the Forefront of Export Growth
ACE E-Manifest Enhances Sea and Rail Security
Port Metro Vancouver Smart Fleet Trucking Strategy to Drive Efficiency, Reliability
The Buenaventura Container Terminal Invests $3.5 Million in Cargo Verification System
RFID Tags Promote Growth, Efficiency at GPA
Index of Advertisers

Seaports Magazine - Summer 2013