The Maritime Exchange for the Delaware River and Bay, a non- profit trade association representing port businesses in the tri-state region, announced yesterday the completion of a major Maritime Domain Awareness electronic reporting program. Known as eNOA/D On-Line, the electronic Notice of Arrival/Departure system serves as a link between vessels destined for the United States and the Department of Homeland Security and provides vessel operators with a user-friendly mechanism to comply with new Customs and Border Protection regulations which went into effect Monday.
In April, Customs published a rule that requires all air and ocean carriers to transmit detailed crew and passenger information electronically; to make it more efficient for industry to comply with the new rule, CBP and Coast Guard worked together to create a single portal which allows one transmission to satisfy the requirements of both agencies through an existing Coast Guard system. However, CBP provided only a two-month window between publication of the rule and the final implementation date. “The Maritime Exchange has come through for us once again. They’ve paved the way for the steamship community to do its job,” said Jesse Chambliss, East Coast Vice President for General Steamship Corporation, a national agency which last year represented nearly 3,300 vessels calling U.S. ports.
The Maritime Exchange has been in the business of reporting vessel movements on the Delaware River since it was formed in 1872. In May, the organization agreed to develop the eNOA/D On-Line system in response to numerous requests from the organization’s membership, and the New Jersey Department of Transportation Office of Maritime Resources provided financial support for the project. “This system provides another level of service to the hundreds of port businesses which use our Maritime On-Line system to meet Customs requirements for electronic cargo manifesting or to receive vessel schedules and movement reports,” said Exchange Vice President Lisa Himber.
In order to incorporate the new functionality into Maritime On-Line, the Exchange worked with local companies DBA Innovations, which developed the software, and InfoSystems, an MTM Technologies company, to upgrade the system infrastructure to support the new application. The New Orleans Board of Trade, a sister maritime association operating at Mississippi River ports, also partnered with the Exchange on the eNOA/D On-Line system. “This project presented numerous challenges,” Himber said, “not the least of which was the fact that final technical documentation wasn’t released by the Coast Guard until June 1 or that we had to design a computer program that could be used by ships at sea - a good number of which lack the most current computer equipment or software. But our team worked aggressively to make sure we met the June 6 compliance date.”
As an advocate for port businesses, the Maritime Exchange and its colleagues in the National Association of Maritime Organizations met with both Customs and Coast Guard in Washington over the last two months to try to effect a smooth transition. According to John Reynolds
, Chairman of GAC-RUR, “the technical issues we faced represented only half the challenge. The new procedures necessitate a dramatic change in business processes for our sector of the industry. I believe that CBP and Coast Guard are now sensitive to our concerns and will work with us to try to phase in enforcement of the new requirements over the next several weeks and months.”
With the system now operational, the Maritime Exchange will continue to work with its members and system users to facilitate the conversion from a paper to an electronic environment both technically and operationally.