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Braking New Ground; Creating New Opportunities

The advancement of electronic solutions to traditional maritime problems has, without dispute, picked up speed considerably in recent years. Driven directly by advances in computer and communications technology — particularly in regard to speed — the level of immediate information available to ship and shoreside personnel is unprecedented, and guaranteed to grow.

While this "technological transition" of the maritime world has been fostered and pushed by a horde of interested organizations and manufacturers, shipping companies seeking the obvious benefits of these new products and processes must proceed with caution, in order to ensure that a solid foundation of training and information infrastructure is laid from the start. If not, the crush of new information will quickly inundate and confuse, resulting in the reverse of the intended effect. By Greg Trauthwein, editorial director illustrate the conservatism of the market, "sweeping" for the maritime world means under development for the last six years!). While the prevailing thought may be "why replace/supplement paper charts … they've worked fine for years?," there are many compelling arguments for a dual or electronic-only system, the lead among them being increased safety of vessel and crew. Electronic charting, whether raster or vector data-based, allows the crew to chart the safest, most fuel-efficient course based on the latest data available. Electronic Charts: Plotting the Future of Maritime Navigation The advent of electronic charts is one of the true revolutions sweeping the maritime world at the moment. (To keep things in perspective, and to The small chemical carrier which Fennica was escorting out of the port of Oulu became stuck in the ice in the wee hours of the morning. Fennica, utilizing its unique hull and 15,000 kW propulsion system (consisting of Wartsila, ABB and Aquamaster Rauma equipment) quickly helped the tanker out of the jam.

Users of the systems have largely credited them with helping to save time and money, precious commodities to any vessel owner/operator.

A perfect example of how electronic charting can boost the bottom line is the U.S. Electronic Navigational Chart program at the U.S.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

NOAA has undertaken an ambitious program to create a digital, vector database of nautical chart features. The database will be used to create Electronic Navigational Charts (ENC) for use in Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS) in 38 major U.S. commercial ports. The ENC data will be provided to the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) Transfer Standard for Digital Hydrographic Data, Publication S-57, Version 3.0 format, which will allow U.S. ENCs to be used in commercially available ECDIS systems meeting IMO standards.

According to NOAA's Howard P. Danley, the organization went back to original sources and surveys in devising its vector charts. He said charts are currently under development for a major lock on the St. Marys River (and 38 ports is scheduled to be on-line by next year). Mr. Danley said ECDIS will prove invaluable in keeping the shipping lanes open, pointing out that when visibility is traditionally poor around the Great Lakes during the autumn, an ECDIS system can be used to successfully navigate through the bad weather and through the locks.

One test data set has been provided to the Lake Carriers Association in the Great Lakes. The data set covers the St. Marys River from DeTour Passage to Sault Ste. Marie, and will be used this spring by lake carriers transiting the St. Marys River.

 
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