- Cargo & Facilities

9/5/2014: New analytical tool for vessel traffic trends

The United States’ economy and defense has been closely tied to a safe and efficient Marine Transportation System, or MTS, since the country’s inception. The increasing complexity of vessel design and operations require the U.S. Coast Guard, in conjunction with maritime stakeholders, to continually examine all aspects of the MTS to mitigate risk and ensure vessel traffic is safely operating on the waterways.

U.S. Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound and the Puget Sound Harbor Safety Committee developed an analytical tool that may be used by policy makers and waterway stakeholders. The tool identifies trends in vessel traffic, deficiencies, accidents and navigation incidents to make informed decisions to improve safety and prevent marine casualties within the Puget Sound. This tool was created for application at all levels; it can be used to compare data nationwide, regionally and port to port.

Vessel deficiencies are based on more than 20 years of marine inspection data and are examined to identify the vessels and systems that have the highest noncompliance rate. Inspection data is then compared with marine casualty data to examine trends and note the vulnerabilities within the MTS. Marine casualties and navigation incidents are plotted using Geographic Information System software. This information is evaluated with vessel traffic density to enable waterway stakeholders to assess risk and develop targeted measures to reduce the probability of an accident.

This tool provides a holistic approach regarding the health of any MTS from which conclusions can be drawn and decisions can be made. In particular, the tool provides:

• Earlier and ongoing awareness of operational risks on the waterways
• Readily available Coast Guard Business Intelligence, or CGBI, data metrics (in conjunction with other port specific data sources) that can be used to visualize and analyze a variety of port health parameters
• Collective data sharing and improvements that benefit local port stakeholders.

The Coast Guard plans to build out the vessel traffic trends website with additional reference documents. The Coast Guard presented the tool at the 15th Biennial Harbor Safety Committee and Area Maritime Security Committee Conference. The presentation can be viewed on the Puget Sound Harbor Safety Committee website. In October, this analytical tool will be presented at the Blue Green Sustainability Symposium 2014 of the American Society of Naval Engineers in Seattle, WA.

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.