River cargo (Shutterstock image)

DOD tests river navigation system upgrade

The Coast Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers are testing  an enhanced information broadcasting system to improve safety and security on America’s inland waterways.

The Marine Safety Information system already transmits integrated navigational and weather alerts for river traffic, but it is being enhanced to integrate more information, including alerts on bridge clearances, hazardous cargoes, safety and security zones, lock status and “Aids to Navigation,” which contain more than 48,000 buoys, beacons and electronic aids to guide military, commercial and recreational mariners.

From the Ohio River Enhanced Marine Safety Information Test Bed in Louisville, Ky., the Automatic Identification System -- an autonomous and continuous broadcast system that exchanges safety and security information between participating vessels and shore stations -- is transmitting the new Enhanced Marine Safety Information messages.

The Coast Guard will use the test bed to determine the best way to integrate the Automatic Identification System into its existing Marine Safety Information and Aids to Navigation systems. The test bed will also help identify the necessary equipment and infrastructure needed to make the waterways safer and more efficient.

Eventually, DOD said users would be able to access the information electronically in different formats.

The test bed is part of an interagency Future of Navigation Initiative that also includes the “Digital Lightship” capabilities, which allow the Coast Guard to provide Aids of Navigation safety information in austere environments and quickly rebuild ports after a disaster.

About the Author

Amanda Ziadeh is a former reporter/producer for GCN.

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