Coast Guard and Army Engineers partner to devise US water navigation future


Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers have partnered at Louisville in Kentucky to pioneer riverine, intra-coastal and coastal navigation future in the country.

Louisville now hosts the Ohio River Enhanced Marine Safety Information Test Bed, which contains important navigational and weather information.

The improved system also comprises additional information including bridge clearances, hazardous cargoes, safety and security zones, lock status and Aids to Navigation.

The details are collected from different government agencies and integrated into a bulletin which will be transmitted to nearby vessels.

End users can also access the information electronically.

Louisville was chosen as the test bed due to the strategic position in the Ohio River that crosses five states before merging with Mississippi River.

Every year, tonnes of cargo and crops and billion barrels of oil gets transported through the rivers of the country which makes water navigation a significant part of US economy.

Around 15% of the country’s freight load is carried through waterways. This water transport also causes less pollution than road or railway carriages.

At the test area, the Coast Guard Office of Navigation Systems and Coast Guard Research and Development Centre are working with the Army Corps of Engineers Research and Development Centre.

The Automatic Identification System situated in the test bed ensures safe exchange of security information between participating vessels and shore stations.

It is now also transmitting Enhanced Marine Safety Information messages to vessels located near to Louisville.

By using this test bed, the authorities can determine the extent of infrastructure required to be developed to make the country’s waterways safer and effective.

Office of Navigation Systems chief Coast Guard Capt. Scott Smith said: “The test site will not only help improve service delivery on our inland waterways but also across the entire Marine Transportation System.

“The [Enhanced Marine Safety Information] test site brings together two of the principal agencies that are charting a course for a more effective and efficient maritime system.”

In the US, the Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) share responsibility for the safeguard of waterways in the country.

While NOAA develops nautical charts and gives tidal and weather information, USACE carry out hydrographic surveys and also maintain locks and dredges waterways.

Coast Guard is responsible for protection and ensures convenient commerce through waterways.


Image: A tug pushing 35 barges passes under the Vicksburg, Mississippi. Photo: courtesy of US Department of Defense.