Friday, October 12, 2012

Turning The eNav Concept Into Action

By Brian Tetreault

The concept of e-Navigation has been developing in the international maritime community for nearly a decade, led by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and with the support and input of other international bodies, including the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) and others. The member states of these bodies have been involved through their delegations, but as the e-Navigation concept develops, the United States has recognized that we can take a leading role in e-Navigation implementation in parallel with international developments. To that end, the US Committee on the Marine Transportation System (CMTS) has moved forward with e-Navigation efforts and established an e-Navigation Integrated Action Team to turn the e-Navigation concept into action.

The CMTS was chartered in 2005 to coordinate the myriad Federal partners involved in the Marine Transportation System (MTS). Chaired by the Secretary of Transportation, the CMTS is tasked to ensure the development and implementation of national MTS policies consistent with national needs and to report to the President its views and recommendations for improving the MTS. The CMTS organization includes a Coordinating Board that sets strategic goals affecting the MTS. These are captured in the National Strategy for the Marine Transportation System (available on the CMTS web site: Under the Coordinating Board are established Integrated Action Teams to address specific issues needed to implement the national strategy. From 2008 to 2012 the Navigation Technology IAT worked on several successful navigation technology efforts, coordinating efforts of the Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers, NOAA and other agencies. As a result of these successes and in recognition of the international developments in e-Navigation, the Coast Guard and The Corps of Engineers jointly recommended the CMTS develop a National e-Navigation Strategy. A working group chaired by the Coast Guard drafted this strategy, which was completed in August 2011 and approved and published in February 2012 as the “US e-Navigation Strategic Action Plan” (also available through the CMTS web site:

The e-Navigation Strategic Action Plan has the following principles:

  • It is action-oriented; taking e-Navigation from concept to actual capabilities.
  • It is in alignment with international efforts.
  • Implementation will be built on existing capabilities.
  • User needs will drive the development of these capabilities.

Guided by these principles, the e-Navigation IAT was created in March 2012, and set out an ambitious work plan, which was approved by the Coordinating Board in June 2012. The purpose of the IAT, per its Terms of Reference is to “develop and carry out a work plan for the implementation of the e-Navigation Strategic Action Plan.” The membership of the e-Nav IAT is open to all CMTS agencies, and is co-chaired by representatives from the Coast Guard, US Army Corps of Engineers and NOAA. In addition to these Federal members, the IAT is expected to “communicate and collaborate with MTS stakeholders as appropriate” and “work through accepted Federal channels to communicate and collaborate with international organizations… and appropriate non-governmental organizations… under the authorities and roles of the agencies participating in the e-Nav IAT.” Given this mandate, the e-Nav IAT plans to work closely with non-Federal e-Navigation stakeholders, including the navigation industry, navigation equipment and software manufacturers, vessel operators and the general public.

Also included in the e-Nav IAT’s Terms of Reference are the following objectives:

  • Identify existing e-Navigation capabilities
  • Identify e-Navigation users
  • Enhance e-Navigation systems interoperability
  • Cover inland, coastal and offshore regions of the marine transportation system
  • Evaluate the proper mix of e-Navigation systems and traditional aids to navigation and navigation services
  • Clarify roles and responsibilities of government, NGOs, technical standards organizations and industry
  • Align US and International e-Navigation efforts

Specific actions the IAT is taking to attain these objectives include development of an e-Navigation capabilities inventory. This inventory will identify navigation-related products, programs, or systems among the different agencies that can be better coordinated, harmonized, or leveraged. Using the inventory, gaps in services and capabilities will be identified and the need for any new value-added e-Navigation projects can be determined. Also incorporated as part of the inventory is a catalog of existing regulations that are considered e-Navigation related. This includes equipment carriage requirements and information reporting requirements. By including regulations in the inventory, the IAT hopes that any e-Navigation implementation can be done using the existing regulatory framework. For example, a key component of e-Navigation is communication between ship and shore. There are existing regulations that mandate carriage of communications equipment aboard vessels (e.g., VHF-FM radios, AIS); these should be leveraged to meet e-Nav communications capabilities, possibly with modifications, rather than creating new carriage regulations.

The e-Nav IAT is also working to identify US e-Navigation stakeholders, based on the IMO-developed list of potential e-Navigation users. Part of developing this list is stakeholder outreach to already-identified e-Navigation user groups. The IAT has participated already in several conferences, including the Joint Harbor Safety Committee/Area Maritime Security Committee conference in August 2012, and the Radio Technical Commission for Maritime Services (RTCM) Annual Meeting in September 2012 to reach out to those stakeholder groups. There will be a session at the upcoming e-Navigation 2012 Conference in Seattle 6-7 November 2012 focused on the work of the CMTS e-Nav IAT, where input will be sought from US e-Navigation stakeholders. The IAT is eager to engage with non-Federal e-Navigation stakeholders at these events, and encourages broad participation. A communications plan is being developed to outline specific outreach actions to take and timelines.

Ultimately, the work of the e-Nav IAT will, per its Terms of Reference, identify “collaborative opportunities to deliver short-term value added e-Navigation products and services.” By early 2013, through development of the capabilities inventory, review of the IMO e-Navigation Gap Analysis, and outreach to US e-Navigation stakeholders the IAT will have an initial, prioritized list of actions to take to implement e-Navigation concepts.

In order to implement the US e-Navigation Strategic Action Plan and meet the aggressive schedule the CMTS e-Nav IAT has set for itself, we will need cooperation from a broad range of e-Navigation stakeholders. Interested persons, organizations and entities are invited to participate in the process, through attendance at events such as the e-Navigation conference in Seattle and communication with the e-Navigation IAT through contacts in the participating agencies. The CMTS e-Nav IAT can be contacted through the CMTS web site at by clicking on the “Contact the CMTS” link.

Brian Tetreault is a navigation systems specialist with the US Army Corps of Engineers Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory. He is co-Chairman of the CMTS e-Navigation Integrated Action team and a representative to IALA, IEC and RTCM e-Navigation working groups.

Richmond Oil Refining Unit to Remain Shut Through 2012

The central crude oil refining unit at Chevron Corp’s Richmond, California petroleum refinery, which has been out of operation since a fire broke out at the facility Aug. 6, will remain closed through the rest of the year, the company announced Oct. 9.

Before the fire, the 2,900-acre facility, which is in the San Francisco Bay area, was processing about 242,000 barrels of crude oil daily, with the end products primarily being diesel and jet fuels, as well as gasoline. But since the blaze, production of motor fuel at the facility has been cut by more than 50 percent.

The Richmond refinery is one of 21 refineries in California, but the 242,000 barrels of daily crude it was processing accounted for 12 percent of the state’s 2.09 million barrels per day of net capacity.

A refining unit performs the initial filtering of crude oil coming into a refinery and produces raw materials for all other units. The blaze is believed to have occurred after a diesel leak near a pump at the distillation unit. A combustible hydrocarbon liquid known as “gas-oil” leaked from an eight-inch pipe connected to a crude oil distillation tower in the refinery’s crude unit, according to the federal Chemical Safety Board, which investigated the incident.

Workers were reportedly in the process of repairing piping connected to the still-operating distillation tower, according to the CSB, when the leak intensified. Due to the high temperature of the material in the tower, in excess of 600 degrees Fahrenheit, the gas-oil immediately formed a large flammable vapor cloud.

Oil and gas prices in California spiked in the fire’s aftermath, with the Oil Price Information Service reporting that retail gas prices had gone up as much as 50 cents per gallon in the days following the fire. California has taken various steps to meet demand, including increasing product imports from Asia and elsewhere.

In an interim quarterly update to investors, Chevron revealed that during the first two months of the third quarter, US refinery crude-input volumes decreased by 92,000 barrels per day compared to the second quarter, largely due to the shutdown of the Richmond refinery crude unit.

Labor Dispute Halts Marine Highway Project Launch

The planned dedication of a new barge service in Stockton, over which US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was expected to preside, had to be called off this week due to concerns over a dispute between stevedoring company Ports America and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

The $30 million Marine Highway project, under which cargo containers would be shuttled between the ports of Stockton and Oakland, was supposed to be dedicated Oct. 11, but the ceremony was postponed by the Port of Stockton.

"We have many questions related to labor issues that arose between the longshore union and the stevedoring company involved,” port Director Richard Aschieris told the Stockton Record newspaper Oct. 9. “And really, without working labor, there’s no way – it’s impossible -- to start the service.”

According to ILWU Local 54, the dispute centers around the number of workers needed for the barge operation. The union says Ports America wants to use only about half the number of compared to other maritime ship operations in Stockton. The two sides are still in negotiations over the amount of labor required for the job.

When eventually launched, the Marine Highway would travel parallel to Interstate 580, the corridor that many truckers use to transport goods to and from the ports of Stockton and Oakland. It’s estimated that about 1,600 containers per day move between the Stockton and Oakland ports along I-580, which is one of the state’s most congested freeways.

LaHood was expected for the dedication ceremony because funding for the project comes partially from the US Department of Transportation. In February 2010, the port received a $13 million federal grant to buy two 140-ton mobile harbor cranes and to make needed infrastructure improvements to support the container-on-barge project.

Jensen Maritime Announces Retirement of Former President

Former Jensen Maritime president and part-owner Sue Williams, who spent more than three decades helping to shape the direction of the company, is retiring.

Williams joined Jensen in 1980 as a front desk manager, and by 1993, she had become the company’s president and majority owner. She maintained that role until 2005, when Jonathan Parrott assumed the position of president.

In 2008, Jensen was purchased by Crowley Maritime and today the two companies share an office on Pier 17 in Seattle. Jensen is now under the direction of Vice President Johan Sperling, who Williams helped to hire in 2001.

Throughout the changes, Williams remained on staff and in recent years has served the company as the director of finance and a business analyst.

“What many people don’t realize is that Sue is truly a self-made woman. She worked very, very hard to build the foundation for the company that Jensen is today,” Sperling said. “As one of the few women in this industry, she accomplished an incredible amount. It’s important for us to take the time to celebrate her contributions to this company now that she’s retiring.”

“Sue humanized Jensen,” said Parrott, now vice president for all of Jensen’s new vessel designs. “She installed the ‘family feel’ for the organization and was very personable and approachable. Not only did we all have respect for her, but she earned it from so many in the industry, as well. We are sad to see her leave the company but are grateful for her efforts.”

Prior to working at Jensen, Williams was in the accounting department of a marine equipment supplier. She studied business at the University of Washington before earning a Bachelor’s degree in organizational management from Northwest University.

POLA Receives Waterfront Redevelopment Proposals

The Port of Los Angeles, which is seeking to redevelop 30 acres of waterfront property along the port’s main channel known as Ports O’ Call Village, says it received eight proposals from commercial real estate developers by the submission deadline.

“We received proposals from a variety of respected, experienced and well-financed firms that see great potential and possibility for this unique waterfront site,” port Executive Director Geraldine Knatz said in a statement regarding the bids, without naming any of the bidders.

The development site includes 3,000 linear feet of rare water frontage and 375,000 square feet of retail and tourism-related entitled uses located at the south end of the Harbor (I-110) Freeway.

The 30-acre parcel’s located within walking distance from the port’s World Cruise Center and the USS Iowa battleship museum.

To review and score the proposals, the port has assembled a five-member panel that includes two port representatives and three other people with extensive redevelopment and urban planning experience.
The panel will conduct interviews and score the various proposals, and is expected to recommend a developer to the Los Angeles Harbor Commission by the end of 2012.

The proposed redevelopment site is in the immediate vicinity of several public waterfront enhancements, including a new downtown harbor and public plaza slated for completion in 2014. In addition to the $36 million Downtown Harbor water basin, promenade and public plaza under construction, other projects completed or underway include a $130 million marina and public promenade, the $16.3 million fountain and plaza and a $23.4 million promenade.