From the very beginnings of the United States, its waterways have provided a way for Americans to increase their standard of living.
Ports like Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore all were important during colonial times and are still important today. US ports and waterways systems are truly a national resource. US ports and waterways have historically performed a role as the critical lifeline for our nations international and domestic trade since the birth of our country. Like any other national resource, it must be cared for and cultivated to meet the growing needs of its users, which include not only the direct users, but also each and every citizen. This cultivation must include consideration of future needs such as projected growth in waterborne commerce and characteristics and technology developments associated with its direct users (carriers, shippers, importers and exporters).
The national transportation system was composed of relatively discrete units of rail, road and water transportation sub-systems, which interfaced by necessity rather than by design. Today, due to increasing cargo volumes and competition from other national port systems, the cornerstone of our national port and waterways system must be the recognition that intermodalism maximizes the efficiency of our system and provides the well marked pathways to future planning and development efforts. Intermodalism requires a seamless transportation system, which provides smooth transition of cargo from one transportation mode to the other. It also requires the recognition that the waterborne and land based infrastructure must develop with the needs of the users in mind.
These developments must include developing technology in the areas of ship design and onboard equipment, vessels traffic systems, aids, and port access programs that efficiently link marine transportation systems to their rail and road links.We as a nation benefited initially from the water access to our trade and we benefit now. There was no need for any national debate on the subject; ports needed to be deeper and channels needing to be kept clear. Using public funds through the use of the US Army Corp of Engineers solved much of the problem. Port access is important to understanding the change. A limitation in depth became a problem at many of the country’s ports.
The corp. also used private contractors, which were funded through the Corps of Engineers’ budget. Maintaining the waterways was important for the nation commercially, nationally, the funds were used to accomplish the national objective. The Navy was always around various ports and that continues today. The largest Navy ships have no trouble sailing through ports and waterways.In the early 1980s, the US changed.
Under the very tight budgets of the time, a dialogue took place involving all stakeholders in our ports system. After years of debate, the US put at a tax on shippers for those owning cargo. The idea was to generate funds for operational and maintenance dredging. In the early 1990s, those paying this tax believe it was unconstitutional as applied to exports.
The Supreme Court agreed with the shippers community and declared the export side of the harbor maintenance tax unconstitutional. The funding of our port infrastructure is the most important maritime problem facing the US for the future. In November 1998, a group of over 150 government and industry representatives attended a three-day conference called by the Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater. The purpose of the conference was to discuss the present state of the maritime transportation; where they wanted to be in the year 2020; and, most importantly, how were they going to get there.
A great deal of information was discussed and it was agreed that a Task Force would be created to assess the adequacy of the maritime transportation and examine critical issues. The first draft of the Task Force Report was circulated to participants in 1999. The report identifies six critical issues (coordination, competitiveness, infrastructure, environment, national security, and safety). The infrastructure section has four components identified by the Task Force: capacity, funding, the regulatory framework and strategy development.
Capacity issues include dredging, locks and dams, competing land uses and intermodal connections. There are cross-issues in the report on the environment and how to accommodate everyone. Funding received a major portion of the attention of Task Force members. It should be appreciated that this area is very hard working.
While the inclusion of framework may seem mundane to some, it is a critical bottom line issue to US ship owner. The US has come a long way working with the Coast Guard to lessen the problems of US owners and operators. Customs has been assessing costs of spare parts and materials fitted overseas on a US foreign-trading ships. This cost was the normal duty on the item as if it were imported in to the US. The effect on US international trading ships will be an increase in yearly costs of an average of $200,000 per ship.
Today, marine carriers transport nearly two billion metric tons of materials, parts and consumer items in domestic and foreign commerce. US deep drafts ports are critical links, not only in support of our foreign commerce, but also in support of trade to the states and territories as well as intracoastal and coastwise traffic. Congressionally designed navigational channels and canals, created by dredging and widening, form and extensive network of deep drafts shipping lanes. Congress will soon be faced with the prospect of developing an alternative financing mechanism, it must be aware that any proposal that places financial responsibility on the user will likely result in US exports becoming less competitive and imports more expensive to American consumers. There are 25,000 miles of navigable waterways within the United States. Congress has set aside over 10,000 miles to be major inland waterways.
The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers is responsible for maintaining some 168 lock-sites, dams and other marine projects. Navigable waterways provide relatively low cost alternatives to shipping commodities such as coal and grain.A major problem arose for users and other beneficiaries of the navigable waterways.
The Maritime Administration reduced proposed levels of funding for the Corps to a level that would stop work on all the new starts and slow down every other inland construction project. If Congress had not stepped in and provided for a sizable increase in funding, the Corps would have been unable to honor cost-sharing arrangements. At a time of increasing international competition, where all of a shipping product’s cost must be looked at, the nation cannot afford an inefficient transportation system. The United States must be an economic leader in the world marketplace. The nation must be aware of and continue to make improvements to its transportation infrastructure. The improvements must make sense and must pay for future extras to the nation’s economy. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is charged with producing the national suite of nautical charts because of the irreplaceable role that marine transportation plays in the nation’s interstate and foreign commerce. Ninety-eight percent of the nation’s foreign commerce travels by ship with half of those cargoes are oil or other hazardous substances.
The nautical chart is an indispensable part of this marine infrastructure. The nautical chart is the fundamental tool of marine navigation. It shows water depths, aide to navigation, obstructions, traffic control schemes and other information critical to the safe and efficient use of the nation’s waterways and to the protection of the marine environment. Carriage of official NOAA charts is mandatory for some vessels. Requiring carriage of the official chart helps to insure that mariners have the best available information and that vessels sharing restricted waterways are making critical navigation decisions based on the same information as before. The agency has eliminated the backlog of notice to mariners and other chart update information.
The timeliness and accuracy of its charts has been considerably improved. Congress helped NOAA in its efforts with the nautical charts by approving the administration’s budget request and eliminating the politically imposed inefficiencies across programs. The agency was able to balance its appropriated resources so that it could not only obtain the new data, but also get that data on a chart and deliver it to the mariner. A chart with accurate depth soundings is not worth much if the shoreline is in the wrong place.NOAA continues to invest in the research and development of improved navigation information technologies. The agency has supported private development of hydrographic survey equipment and works closely with colleges and the Department of Defense. NOAA has often enlisted the support of the private sector in conducting tests of new services. Private tanker owners participated in a study by NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey to test GPS applications for determining vessels squat.
Although the Coast Guard and Maritime Administration in theDepartment of Transportation are heading up the Marine Transportation System initiative, NOAA has worked closely with them from its beginning. Improving communications was a theme heard over and over at the regional listening sessions and national conference. The diverse group of interests has not reached consensus on all issues, but the Marine Transportation System process has done much to bring the necessary parties together in initial and positive attempts to address and prioritize concerns. The impacts of port and maritime activities are felt in all sizes of communities around the nation. In the larger picture of overall ocean resources and coastal management, maritime commerce is one of many activities impacting local decision-making. All around the nation, the quality of coastal waters and the diversity of marine life are emphasized. The combination of full-bottom surveys, digital charts, accurate three-dimensional positioning using GPS, real-time systems, and improved marine weather forecasts and warnings will enhance the safety and efficiency of the nation’s ports without increased regulation.
It will allow ships to carry more cargo, increasing revenues and the competitiveness of United Statess exports overseas. The increased reliability and accuracy of charted data, water levels, and forecasts will setup the scheduling of ship arrivals and departures and will allow far faster direct transits, reducing fuel consumption, congestion, pollution and other impacts on coastal resources. The maritime industry is advancing in other ways such as the navigational side. Electronic charting systems are revolutionizing marine navigation and are the greatest advances in navigation safety since radar. NOAA has been involved in developing electronic charts, systems, and standards since the early 1980s.
Results include international standards for Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems and for Electronic Charts plus recently adopted standards for Raster Chart Display and Raster Nautical Charts (RNCs).The RNCs will become the official charts that can be carried in place of paper charts. The official status applies to regulated vessels for which chart carrying is mandatory. Private companies make, and will continue to make other electronic versions of NOAA paper charts for the 99% of the market that is unregulated.
NOAA considered many ways to produce electronic charts including contracting, free distribution of data for anyone wanting to make a product, cooperative research and development agreements (CRADAs), or certifying private products. The CRADA was selected as the method that offered the greatest flexibility to meet rapidly evolving needs tat the lowest risk and cost to the taxpayer.In providing digital charts, NOAA worked to guarantee that mariners needs would be met while balancing many interests. For example, making digital charts available for free over the Internet. Software producers would be very willing to produce navigation products for the merchant marine.In closing United States waterways, ports, and their intermodal connections, as well as the vessels moving people and cargo, are the most important elements of the Marine Transportation System. The challenge is clear to the industry.
The Government and the private sector must continue to work together if the nation wants the very best Marine Transportation System possible for the future. The Government helps to recognize the numerous maritime challenges this country faces to keep it competitive, safe, secure, and environmentally sound as the world enters the 21st century. THE FUTURE OF THE MERCHANT MARINEJeannine’s English PaperOCTOBER 11, 2000Bibliographyhttp://www.iccwbo.org/ccs/menu_imb_piracy.aspSICC Commercial Crime Serviceshttp://www.cmc-ccm.com/Chamber of Maritime Commercehttp://www.moc.noaa.gov/NOAA Maritime Operationshttp://www.marad.dot.gov/US Department of TransportationShuster, BudFuture Needs of the US Marine Transportation SystemWashington 1999 US Government Printing Officehttp://www.usace.army.mil/US Army Corps of EngineersWords/ Pages : 2,157 / 24