California: Encouraging Ships to Slow Down

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

March 15, 2019

Image by NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary

Image by NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary

The partners in an initiative to cut air pollution and protect endangered whales announced results from the 2018 program and recognized the 12 shipping companies that participated, reducing speeds to 10 knots or less in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Santa Barbara Channel region.

The voluntary incentive program ran July 1 - November 15, 2018. Partners recognized the companies at a ceremony at the Bannings Landing Community Center near the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach.

Shipping companies received financial awards based on the percent of distance traveled by their vessels through the Vessel Speed Reduction (VSR) zones at 10 knots or less and with an average speed of 12 knots or less.

The 10-knot target follows the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries’ requests for vessels (300 gross tons or larger) to slow down during the months of peak whale abundance to protect whales from lethal ship strikes.

This time of year also coincides with the typical high ground-level ozone (smog) season. The 10-knot target allows ships to travel at an efficient operating load that reduces air pollution and fuel costs.

Compliance with the program was verified through Automatic Identification System (AIS) data from transponders on each ship that continuously transmit a ship’s speed, heading, and location. Of the nearly 130,000 nautical miles of ocean transited by all the ships in the program, 46,026 nautical miles were at 10 knots or less.

Shipping companies received financial awards at different tiers based on the percent of distance that the vessels in their fleet traveled at a speed of 10 knots or less. The four award tiers were Bronze (i.e., 10%-25% of their distance traveled at 10 knots or less), Silver (25-50%), Gold (50-75%), and Sapphire (75-100%).

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