Written by Walter T. Ham IV, public affairs officer, Office of Navigation Systems
The U.S. Coast Guard has a major role in maintaining the U.S. Marine Transportation System (MTS); the more than 25,000 miles of inland, intracoastal and coastal waterways that connect the United States to the rest of the world and facilitate more than $4.5 trillion in trade every year. To ensure the Coast Guard meets its objectives, the organization recently released an instruction that details its organic marine planning roles and responsibilities within a greater interagency framework.
“Managing a system of ports and waterways as vast as the U.S. MTS and with ever-growing demands is a team endeavor,” said Paul Crissy from the Navigation Standards and Regulations Division. “The marine planning instruction codifies our efforts to leverage our expansive network of interagency, military and industry relationships.”
Crissy said the Coast Guard’s marine planning effort is designed to promote a safe, secure, efficient, environmentally sound and resilient MTS by focusing on risk management and hazard prevention.
“We are coordinating with other stakeholders to shape a consistent national approach to marine planning, while at the same time, affording operational commanders necessary flexibility to accommodate unique regional factors,” said Crissy.
In addition to covering regional marine planning bodies and harbor safety committees, the instruction also addresses the various targeted studies the U.S. Coast Guard conducts in support of its portfolio of safety, security and stewardship missions across U.S. waterways.
Recent studies include the Port Access Route Studies (PARS) for the Atlantic Coast, Bering Strait, and Nantucket Sound, as well as Port and Waterways Safety Assessments (PAWSA) of Hampton Roads, Virginia, New York Harbor, and the Columbia River from the Pacific Ocean to Oregon City, Oregon.
The PAWSAs serve to find non-regulatory solutions to address identified risks within a waterway.
For example, the Hampton Roads PAWSA addressed vessel traffic, channel characteristics and other risk factors in the main shipping channel leading from the entrance of the Chesapeake Bay to the ports of Norfolk and Portsmouth, Virginia, along the Elizabeth River.
According to Mike Sollosi, the chief of the Navigation Regulations and Standards Division, these targeted studies are an essential component of the Coast Guard’s marine planning efforts.
“Many organizations play a critical role in the maritime governance of our nation’s navigable waterways,” said Sollosi. “Marine planning helps to ensure unity of effort across the entire MTS enterprise.”
“With the Panama Canal expanding, the Arctic region thawing and offshore domestic energy production on the rise, our waterways are becoming more crowded and more complex – and our marine planning mission has never been more important,” said Sollosi.
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.