- Domestic Vessels

8/27/2014: 2014 AMSC Conference- Navigation needs with offshore wind energy

The Transportation Research Board hosted the 15th Biennial Harbor Safety Committee and Area Maritime Security Committee Conference, in Philadelphia, Pa. August 26-27th, 2014. The conference explored best practices, innovations and technology that address critical harbor and maritime safety and security issues.

Emile Benard, project manager for the Atlantic Coast Port Access Route Study, was a keynote speaker in a plenary session titled, ‘Maritime Commerce and Offshore Energy: How We Can Coexist.’

ACBA is a Port Access Route Study, initiated in 2011, of the entire East Coast to determine if new routing measures or changes to existing routing measures are necessary to balance the multiple uses of the waterway, while ensuring the safety of navigation.

Benard’s remarks focused on the needs of navigation in relation to offshore wind energy.

The Coast Guard is the cooperating agency with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, who is the lead permitting agency. The Coast Guard advises BOEM on navigation safety and impacts to Coast Guard missions such as search and rescue or environmental response.

“One of the things we look at is the navigational risk assessment conducted by the developer. That’s when we really look at the nuts and bolts of a specific area in terms of what impacts it will have to shipping,” said Benard.

Benard outlined the impacts to navigation from offshore structures:

• Increase density: can result in additional collisions
• Allisions with fixed objects
• Weather and environment: such as sea state
• Mixing vessel types: such as mixing small, large, faster and slower vessels
• Complexity of vessel interactions: such as vessels approaching the structures from different sides forcing crossing situations or other entering and exiting traffic schemes
• Decreased sea room: with less room to maneuver or recover from a mechanical failure

Benard spoke about guidelines surrounding offshore energy and maritime commerce.

“Developers are providing feedback to the ACPARS, which have been used to create guidelines ,” said Benard.

Benard provided further remarks on the minimum distance requirements and international guidelines for distance from offshore structures.

Additional international regulations and guidelines that pertain to offshore energy:

• General Provisions on Ships Routeing of International Maritime Organization
• United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
• International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972

Benard identified some ongoing challenges for wind energy offshore:

• Some wind energy are moving forward without addressing navigation
• State by state approach
• Inconsistent process from one state to the next
• Developers are under impression that all conflicts are addressed prior to leasing
• Lack the modeling and analysis tools to calculate changes in risk and cumulative impacts

Along with the challenges, Benard discussed potential recommendations:

• Address navigation early in the process along with other conflicts
• Identify navigation corridors necessary to ensure safety of navigation for all vessels along the coast
• Better engage industry to identify areas compatible for both wind and navigation

Lastly, Benard provided a status update on what the ACPARS is working on:

• Working on the development of marine planning guidelines
• Engage with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to address navigation in the leasing process
• Work to identify navigation safety corridors

Benard concluded with resources and information on the ACPARS and offshore energy as it relates to maritime commerce.

The Nautical Institute’s document on Marine Spatial Planning
Coast Guard Atlantic Area’s website for ACPARS
Contact for ACPARS

This blog is not a replacement or substitute for the formal posting of regulations and updates or existing processes for receiving formal feedback of the same. Links provided on this blog will direct the reader to official source documents, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These documents remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.