SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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FEDERAL HYDROGRAPHY PROGRAMS
SUBCOMMITTEE ON FISHERIES CONSERVATION, WILDLIFE AND OCEANS
COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRESS
THE EFFECTIVENESS AND FUTURE OF THE FEDERAL HYDOGRAPHY PROGRAMS
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCAPRIL 24, 1997WASHINGTON, DC
Serial No. 10515
Printed for the use of the Committee on Resources
COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES
DON YOUNG, Alaska, Chairman
W.J. (BILLY) TAUZIN, Louisiana
JAMES V. HANSEN, Utah
JIM SAXTON, New Jersey
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
JOHN J. DUNCAN, Jr., Tennessee
JOEL HEFLEY, Colorado
JOHN T. DOOLITTLE, California
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland
KEN CALVERT, California
RICHARD W. POMBO, California
BARBARA CUBIN, Wyoming
HELEN CHENOWETH, Idaho
LINDA SMITH, Washington
GEORGE P. RADANOVICH, California
WALTER B. JONES, Jr., North Carolina
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCWILLIAM M. (MAC) THORNBERRY, Texas
JOHN SHADEGG, Arizona
JOHN E. ENSIGN, Nevada
ROBERT F. SMITH, Oregon
CHRIS CANNON, Utah
KEVIN BRADY, Texas
JOHN PETERSON, Pennsylvania
RICK HILL, Montana
BOB SCHAFFER, Colorado
JIM GIBBONS, Nevada
MICHAEL D. CRAPO, Idaho
GEORGE MILLER, California
EDWARD J. MARKEY, Massachusetts
NICK J. RAHALL II, West Virginia
BRUCE F. VENTO, Minnesota
DALE E. KILDEE, Michigan
PETER A. DeFAZIO, Oregon
ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, American Samoa
NEIL ABERCROMBIE, Hawaii
SOLOMON P. ORTIZ, Texas
OWEN B. PICKETT, Virginia
FRANK PALLONE, Jr., New Jersey
CALVIN M. DOOLEY, California
CARLOS A. ROMERO-BARCELÓ, Puerto Rico
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCMAURICE D. HINCHEY, New York
ROBERT A. UNDERWOOD, Guam
SAM FARR, California
PATRICK J. KENNEDY, Rhode Island
ADAM SMITH, Washington
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
CHRIS JOHN, Louisiana
DONNA CHRISTIAN-GREEN, Virgin Islands
RON KIND, Wisconsin
LLOYD DOGGETT, Texas
LLOYD A. JONES, Chief of Staff
ELIZABETH MEGGINSON, Chief Counsel
CHRISTINE KENNEDY, Chief Clerk/Administrator
JOHN LAWRENCE, Democratic Staff Director
Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans
JIM SAXTON, New Jersey, Chairman
W.J. (BILLY) TAUZIN, Louisiana
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland
WALTER B. JONES, Jr., North Carolina
JOHN PETERSON, Pennsylvania
MICHAEL D. CRAPO, Idaho
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCNEIL ABERCROMBIE, Hawaii
SOLOMON P. ORTIZ, Texas
FRANK PALLONE, Jr., New Jersey
SAM FARR, California
PATRICK J. KENNEDY, Rhode Island
HARRY BURROUGHS, Staff Director
JOHN RAYFIELD, Legislative Staff
CHRISTOPHER STERNS, Democratic Counsel
C O N T E N T S
Hearing held April 24, 1997
Statement of Members:
Abercrombie, Hon. Neil, a U.S. Representative from Hawaii
Miller, Hon. George, a U.S. Representative from California
Saxton, Hon. Jim, a U.S. Representative from New Jersey; and Chairman, Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans
Young, Hon. Don, a U.S. Representative from Alaska; and Chairman, Committee on Resources
Statement of Witnesses:
Amory, Capt. L.D. Rick, American Pilots Association
Borrone, Lillian C., Director, Port Commerce Dept., The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (prepared statement)
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCBossler, Rear Adm. John D. (ret.), NOAA (prepared statement)
Castellano, Cosmo, Program Manager, SmartBridge, Lockheed Martin
Du Moulin, Richard, Chairman, International Association of Independent Tanker Owners
Evans, Dr. David, Deputy Assistant Administrator, National Ocean Service
Grabowski, Dr. Martha, Member, National Research Council Marine Board
Supplement to statement
Josephson, Diana, Deputy Undersecretary for Oceans and Atmosphere, Department of Commerce
Morton, Dr. Robert W., Vice President, Marine Systems and Surveys Operation, Science Applications International Corporation
Provo, James S., Senior Vice President, T. Parker Host, Inc.
Spence, Capt. Michael C., Alaska Coastwise Pilots Association (prepared statement)
Thomas, Captain Arthur, Chair, Harbor Safety Committee of the San Francisco Bay Region
Travis, Will, Executive Director, San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, State of California (prepared statement)
Additional material supplied:
Commerce Department: Vessel leasing
Lockheed Martin Demonstration Chart Technology
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Bettinelli, Capt. Louis (Interport Pilots Agency): Letter of April 18, 1997, to Hon. Jim Saxton
Daly, Thomas F. (NJ Board of Commrs. of Pilotage): Letter of April 18, 1997, to Hon. H. James Saxton
Deane, Robert and William Sherwood (United NY & NJ Sandy Hook Pilot's Benevolent Assn.): Letter of April 29, 1997, with attachments to Hon. Jim Saxton
Kellogg, Captain Ted: Memorandum of April 15, 1997, to Hon. Don Young
McGovern, Andrew (Port of NY & NJ): Letter of May 1, 1997, to Hon. Jim Saxton
Moore, Capt. R.A. (NY Harbor Pilot): Letter of April 18, 1997, to Hon. Jim Saxton
FEDERAL HYDROGRAPHY PROGRAMS
THURSDAY, APRIL 24, 1997
House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans, Committee on Resources,
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 2:00 p.m., in room 1334, Longworth House Office Building, Hon. Jim Saxton [Chairman of the Subcommittee] presiding.
STATEMENT OF HON. JIM SAXTON, A U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FROM NEW JERSEY; AND CHAIRMAN, SUBCOMMITTEE ON FISHERIES CONSERVATION, WILDLIFE AND OCEANS
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Mr. SAXTON. Good afternoon. Today's hearing will examine the Federal hydrography program and discuss its future.
By way of explanation, hydrography is the practice of charting the seafloor. Two hundred years ago the waters of the United States were uncharted and shipwrecks were an expensive cost of doing business. Thomas Jefferson recognized that investing in accurate nautical charts was crucial to the commerce of the young nation, and in 1807 he created the United States Coast Survey, the agency which charted U.S. waters for 190 years.
We will address two issues in this hearing. First, new electronic navigation technology has the potential to greatly increase the safety and efficiency of navigation. We need to determine if our charting program produces products that realize this potential. Second, the Office of Coastal Survey has one-half the funding and one-fourth the number of survey ships that it had 25 years ago. This lack of resources means that ships traveling in many critical areas in United States watersareas with narrow channels, shallow water and heavy traffichave to rely on inadequate and out-of-date charts.
Let me give an example of this new technology that will be available. For less than $1000 I, or any other boat owner, can purchase a GPS satellite navigation system that will tell me my position anywhere on the planet with a 20-foot accuracy. That may be a slight exaggeration, but 20 feet sounds good. If I had a perfectly accurate chart to go with the system, I could sail into a foggy harbor at night and tie up at the pier without ever looking out the window. Unfortunately, most nautical charts were made before the invention of GPS and the locations of objects sometimes do not match between old and new survey techniques. It is possible, when navigating near shore, to plot a GPS fix on an old chart and find your boat on land.
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This illustrates the benefits of new navigation technology and the problems that must be overcome before we actually see the benefits. No matter how impressive these new high-tech systems are, they do no good if the underlying charts are inaccurate or out of date. Accurate nautical charts and navigation systems are our first line of defense against costly marine accidents and the environmental damage they cause. In recent years millions of dollars have been spent cleaning up oil spills and attempting to repair damage to the environment. By spending a small fraction of this sum on accurate charts of U.S. waters, we can help prevent future oil spills before they happen.
We should not wait for a major maritime accident to call our attention to this problem before we address it. It should be addressed now. We need to ensure that the U.S. nautical charting program, which represents two centuries of experience at ensuring safe navigation, has sufficient resources to prevent accidents before they happen.
I will yield now to the gentleman from Hawaii, the ranking member of the Subcommittee.
STATEMENT OF HON. NEIL ABERCROMBIE, A U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FROM HAWAII
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Mr. Saxton, thank you very much. I would like to simply reiterate your commentary as my own. I think you have covered it. Hydrography in a word is the science of charting the seafloor.
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I am particularly happy to see the panel that we have here, Mr. Chairman, because I am sure they are well awareand for those who may not be aware and those among those who are attending today, a new island is being born off of the big island of Hawaii, Luihi.
Literally charting the seafloor takes on an entirely different meaning for us in the contemporary world. If I am not mistaken, we have never had the opportunity literally before to chart the birth of an island from its very beginning. All of us will be long since gone and passed from this vale of tears and joy by the time that island thrusts itself above the level of the sea, but nonetheless we will and are now pioneers in the actual charting of its growth.
So this hearing has particular meaning for me, and I am looking forward to the testimony and to the accomplishments that I am sure are going to be forthcoming as a result of the legislation we will be undertaking. Thank you very much.
Mr. SAXTON. At this time I would like to ask unanimous consent that all Members' statements be included in the record. And I have one statement here from Mr. Young, and I believe the minority has a statement from Mr. Miller.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Yes, sir.
Mr. SAXTON. OK, I ask unanimous consent that those two statements
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. This is what passes for a statement from Mr. Miller I have here in my hand.
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Mr. SAXTON. OK, I won't tell him you said that.
[Statement of Hon. Don Young follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. DON YOUNG, A U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FROM ALASKA; AND CHAIRMAN, COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am pleased to see that the Subcommittee is holding this hearing on nautical charting and hydrography. Hydrography surveying is indeed one of the often-overlooked, but extremely important tasks that the U.S. Government performs.
I am especially interested in this subject because of the present situation in Alaska. Every year, there is a significant increase in the number of large ships transiting Alaskan waters.
Everyone knows that many of these ships carry oil and other hazardous cargo; but not many people outside Alaska realize just how popular the cruise ship industry in Southeast Alaska has become. The enormous extent of Alaska's waters means that many areas have never been accurately charted at all, and only a few areas have been surveyed well enough to produce the accurate charts that large ships need to operate safely. NOAA's Office of Coast Survey estimates that 22,000 square miles of Alaska waters now see enough traffic that the existing charts may be seriously inadequate.
Right now, one U.S. survey ship operates in Alaskan waters. It will take 34 years for this ship to survey all 22,000 square miles that need new charts. This is a problem that needs to be addressed. Therefore, I think it is very important that Congress pay attention to the progress of NOAA's hydrography program. Nautical charts are something that everyone takes for granted, until an out-of-date chart causes an accident. We must not wait for a major shipping accident to call our attention to a problem that the Federal Government should be solving right now. We need to ensure that our hydrographers are doing their job of improving maritime safety and efficiency, and we need to make sure that they have the proper resources to get the job done.
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I look forward to hearing from our distinguished witnesses on this important subject.
[Statement of Hon. George Miller follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. GEORGE MILLER, A U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FROM CALIFORNIA
State-of-the-art navigation systems are a win-win situation for the San Francisco Bay area and all coastal communities. Getting the maximum possible information to mariners on depth, current, wind, and tides leads to safer and more efficient navigation. Safer navigation in turn saves lives and protects the environment. In addition, more efficient navigation means more goods can be delivered at lower cost, which is good for the economy.
Last October, the Bay area received a clear wake up call when a tiny 200 barrel oil spill caused $10 million in damages. This spill was not the result of a navigation accident, but it showed that a spill of any significant size would be devastating to the economy and the environment of the bay area.
We need to do everything we can to prevent oil spills. Even though we have made great improvements in our ability to respond to and contain oil spills, the technology simply does not exist to repair the damage once the oil is in the water. I have introduced legislation, H.R. 882, to authorize the removal of underwater rocks near Alcatraz Island that pose a threat to deep draft vessels. That is one practical step to reduce the risk of oil spills.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Another practical step is to bring navigation systems up to date. NOAA, working with the San Francisco Bay Harbor Safety Committee and the Coast Guard, is doing just that. I support NOAA's efforts to improve the safety and efficiency of navigation through its San Francisco Bay Project. I hope that the Committee can continue to work in a bipartisan fashion to provide increased funding for these and other efforts of NOAA's navigation services program.
Captain Art Thomas, who the panel will hear from later, speaks from a lifetime of experience navigating the bay, and I would like to thank him for his efforts in this area and for his support of the Bay SAFE legislation.
Mr. SAXTON. At this time I would like to introduce our first panel. Ms. Diana Josephson, Deputy Undersecretary of Oceans and Atmosphere in the Department of Commerce, and she is accompanied by Dr. David Evans, Deputy Assistant Administrator of the National Ocean Service, and Mr. Castellano, a Program Manager, SmartBridge, Lockheed Martin. May I remind the witnesses to please keep your oral statements to five minutes or less and your written statement will be included in the record.
Ms. Josephson, you may proceed.
STATEMENT OF DIANA JOSEPHSON, DEPUTY UNDERSECRETARY FOR OCEANS AND ATMOSPHERE, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
Ms. JOSEPHSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, for this opportunity to testify on NOAA's efforts to provide critical charting products and data for safe and efficient marine navigation.
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Every maritime country has always regarded providing navigation services as a function of the national government. NOAA and its predecessors have a history of almost 200 years of hydrographic charting, water level and geodetic expertise. Today more than 98 percent of U.S. foreign trade by weight is shipped by sea, and more than half of that is hazardous materials or petroleum. Since 1955 maritime trade has doubled and more than 2 billion tons of cargo move through U.S. ports each year. Vessels today are longer, wider and deeper than ever before, and each year there are about 3500 commercial shipping accidents. Safe, timely and efficient movement of goods is vital to keeping U.S. exports competitive.
Working closely with our constituents and product users, we have established criteria for ranking those port and coastal areas most in need of new surveys, charts and related services. We studied the quality of existing data, the tonnage and value of goods, the hazardous nature of the cargo, total vessel traffic and passenger traffic, including operating areas of the cruise lines. As a result, we have identified a critical backlog of 39,000 square nautical miles remaining to be surveyed, more than half of this in Alaskan waters. At current resource levels, it will take about 34 years to do the job.
Advances in navigational technology on modern ships have pushed us toward creating, certifying and providing highly accurate and up-to-date digital navigation data in addition to our traditional paper charts. We need to utilize three major advances in surveying technology to fully realize our goals: first, multibeam echo sounders that can provide highly accurate depth and full-bottom coverage; second, high-speed, high-resolution side-scan sonars that provide vivid images of specific features such as rocks and wrecks; and third, the global positioning system that provides precise locations.
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If NOAA can fully implement these technologies, we estimate a 20 percent increase in survey efficiency, as well as obtaining 100 percent coverage of the seafloor. However, since 1996 NOAA has been prohibited from procuring new survey technologies for our ships. Instead we have been instructed to contract for data collection. We are committed to outsourcing much of our data collection, and as long as NOAA maintains the expertise to quality control data from all sources, we can continue the government's traditional policy of self insuring against liability. However, when survey contractors use technologies unavailable to NOAA, we must require them to carry substantial liability insurance to indemnify the government and protect the U.S. Treasury from accident claims.
Since the government will pay for the insurance, the prohibition against modernization may have the result of making private contracting costs prohibitive. The other odd result of this ban is that the nation's expert, NOAA, is prevented from utilizing new technology to reduce the survey backlogs. As I stated earlier, at current resource levels we will need 34 years to complete the current backlog.
I want to commend the Congress and this committee for recognizing the importance of this work by increasing our appropriations by almost $10 million over the past two years. However we have been asked what it would cost to do the job more quickly, say in ten years. Our current estimates for eliminating the survey backlog, producing digital charts, providing up-to-date water level data, including PORTS installations, will cost about $118 million per year for ten years or almost $58 million per year beyond current funding, not including the replacement costs for the three NOAA survey vessels. My written testimony provides more cost details, including a 20-year option.
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NOAA will continue to pursue private contracting for data collection and other services. We recently laid up two hydrographic vessels to provide funds for more contracting. We are preparing to contract for about $8.5 million worth of survey work with fiscal year 96 and 97 funds. We have even sponsored courses in conducting chart quality surveys to assist in developing private sector experience and capability, however we must have the in-house capability, operational knowledge and experience to be smart buyers of these private services, and we must have a complete technological understanding and confidence in the data collected by private contractors to protect the U.S. Treasury.
To be most efficient, NOAA also requires permanent Brooks Act contracting authority to facilitate the increased use of private contractors by streamlining and accelerating the procurement process, and long-term lease authority so that we may enter into cost-effective contracts for hydrographic ship support from private industry.
We greatly appreciate the committee's interest and look forward to working with you toward our mutual goals of not only reducing the survey backlogs, but ensuring that we have the safest, most up-to-date charting products and technology to support our nation's commerce and the health of our precious coastal ecosystems. This concludes my testimony. I would be happy to answer questions now or, if you prefer, we could proceed with the demonstration and answer questions later.
[Statement of Diana Josephson may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. SAXTON. What would you prefer?
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Dr. EVANS. We can just go ahead if you would like.
Mr. SAXTON. I am sorry?
Dr. EVANS. We can just proceed with the demonstration if you would like to sort of save the questions.
Mr. SAXTON. Why don't you do that. Go ahead.
STATEMENT OF DR. DAVID EVANS, DEPUTY ASSISTANT ADMINISTRATOR, NATIONAL OCEAN SERVICE
Dr. EVANS. OK, yes, that would be fine. Mr. Chairman, what I would like to do is take a few minutes and demonstrate some of the old and new technologies and kind of bring you up to date to show you what has happened over those 200 years, because there have been some very dramatic changes that have affected both the quality of the data on our charts and our capability of acquiring new data. I am going to break this up into three sections. I am going to talk about nautical charting, that is the actual preparation of charts. I am going to talk about hydrography, collecting the data that goes on the charts and forms the basis for it, and I am going to talk about measuring water levels and how we provide water level information to mariners as well. I have got some slides that will show how this works. And when I get all finished I am going to end by introducing our colleague from Lockheed Martin and demonstrate, sort of, where the government role ends in this continuum of activities and where the private sector is picking up.
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First of all, by way of a little bit of history, what you see up here is the way we used to make nautical charts. This is the traditional way and it has been what we have done for many, many years. Over on the far side you see some funny looking yellow pieces of plastic. That represents the nautical charting data base, the traditional data base, and it represents the way that we actually proceeded to make nautical charts. Corrections were hand ink, etched on those pieces of plastic. When new data were acquired, they were applied to those pieces. They were subsequently compiled to make the color separates required to drive the printing presses to print the charts that you are familiar with using. And folks like this, cartographers like this would sit there and make these corrections by hand.
I think that the cartographic process probably represents the first and most important success story in NOAA's efforts to modernize its programs. I am going to move on.
What we have done is to convert that process to one which is entirely computer based these days. What you see up in front of you with the little cartoons on the bottoms and up in the corners is a computer representation of a portion of a nautical chart. The entire suite of 1000 charts have got representations such as this, digital representations, that allows our cartographers to use those kind of tools like you would use with Mac Paint or a Paint program in Windows to make changes. And what you see on the left and right sides here are the results of those changes. The circled areas on the right frame represent changes that have been put in, changes in soundings, the position of a wreck and so on, that have been put in on the computer in the representation of that chart.
The process then goes to take the resulting computer image from that chart and produce an entire representation of a nautical chart. That nautical chart then has two paths. The first path is to simply go out for distribution through a creative partnership that we have developed. You can buy these charts, many per compact disk that is compatible with your computer, and use it in your laptop computer for navigating a private boat, for example. The other path that those charts follow is to go to another piece of computer software that eliminates the process of having to do a negative engraving before making a paper chart. It automatically generates the color separates for the paper chart process and prepares the material that is necessary to go to the printer.
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The consequence of that is that a process that used to take more or less five years from beginning to end to acquire the data and make a revision of the chart, 38 weeks of which was in the simple production phase of getting the data and doing the engraving, is now reduced to the point where charts can be kept current to within a year of the time the surveys are acquired and will eventually be kept current to within a week of the acquisition of all data. That 38-week part of the process has been reduced to about three weeks in our current production scheme. So there have been significant changes made in the way that we have done the job, leading to two new products, one a digital product that can be used by boaters and the second a revised way of producing it.
Now a rasterized chart like that is basically just a picture of a nautical chart, and whereas it represents a way that you can carry around a lot of charts very conveniently and you can edit them and we can print them, it doesn't actually contain the information that is needed to move into a modern era of navigation. For that you need this really rather strange looking creature up here, which contains all the important information that was on the previous more graphical looking chart. The same channel is outlined, the same navigational aids are outlined. The same shoreline features are outlined there. This is the information that you need if you really want to avoid having a serious collision in that harbor.
Now the importance of this is that having a collision, as you know from the previous testimony, has very dire consequences, both economically and to the environment. What you see on this map of the United States here is a little cartoon where we have superimposed the area that was oiled in the Exxon Valdez accident on more familiar pieces of real estate for many of the people who are in the room, part of the geography that is a little easier to relate. So that, for example, that black area there that you see extending from Block Island Sound to about Cape Henry gives you a measure of the scale of the size of that accident when superimposed on the lower 48 States.
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It has been suggested that the existence of the kind of electronic data that I showed you in that previous representation operating on an electronic bridge using a modern ECDIS system, that is a computer-based system that can read the semantic information of the nautical chart, could have conceivably prevented the accident that happened on the Exxon Valdez by having the mechanisms available to ring an alarm bell, to flash some lights, to get people's attention, because the information content on the chart has been captured in that group of vectors lines that are on there, more than just a picture of the chart. So that an intelligent navigation system would be able to essentially know that a depth contour had been crossed or that an obstruction was coming.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Excuse me. Could you not necessarily repeat all of that, but I didn't quite get the transition. From what to what might have given the opportunity to be aware that something was going wrong?
Dr. EVANS. In making a computer representation of the data that is on a nautical chart, there is sort of two paths. The easy path is the graphical one where basically you have a picture of our nautical chart. It is a scanned image, kind of like a fax image, if you will. On the other hand you have to capture the information that is on the chart in a way that a computer could use it. If you want, it is the difference between havingreceiving a fax out of your fax machine and receiving a word processor document via e-mail. If you have a fax, you have a picture of it. You can read it, but you can't correct it and you can't run it through the spell checker. But if you get an e-mail message, you can go through and check the spelling and, you know, change the grammar and move one paragraph around. You can actually work with the content in a meaningful way.
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If you have the vector representation of the information, associated with the lines where that channel is, is a piece of information in the data base that says this is the channel and the depth of the channel is X, or that there is an obstruction and the least depth of that obstruction is Y. And a computer program monitoring the position of where the vessel is as it traverses that chart can keep track of it and say, oh, my ship draws 48 feet and there is an obstruction up there that measures 35 feet, I better ring a bell if we are going to run into it within the next five minutes.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. So it could have been programmed literally to have a bell go off like you would in your automobile if your fuel is too low or
Dr. EVANS. Exactly.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. [continuing]something of that nature?
Dr. EVANS. In fact, at the very end of our discussion here Mr. Castellano is going to talk about a system like that which is currently under development at Lockheed that takes this kind of informationthis is the kind of information which we need to produce for a modern era of generation, in contrast to the old more graphic kind of representation.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. So it now would be possible, from what you are saying then, through technology, then to do what fathoming was all about before, you had someone actually throwing out a measure
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Dr. EVANS. Yes.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. [continuing]to figure how many fathoms you were involved in?
Dr. EVANS. In fact, that is exactly right. How to provide the information that shows the immediate context for where the ship is operating is exactly what we are all about. Nautical chart is one representation of that. Instantaneous
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. OK, thank you.
Dr. EVANS. How much water is under the keel is another representation of that. And how that all gets brought together is really the
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. So all this is transposable?
Dr. EVANS. I am sorry?
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. All this is transposable to the ship?
Dr. EVANS. Yes, absolutely.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Thank you.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. JOSEPHSON. And then it is also tied in with the global positioning system, you know, a GPS receiver on board the ship which can tie into these computer systems and tell you exactly where you are in relation to your position on the face of the earth.
Dr. EVANS. The issue of GPS is important also in terms of the content of the chart. Most of our charts were acquired using old technology. The technology for navigating was essentially celestial navigation using a sextant. The technology for finding depth was a technologyI can hardly lift itof using a leadline and measuring how many fathoms of line there were over the side when it touched the bottom. That technology has been replaced, and the GPS technology for positioning is really important in terms of the information content that is on the chart.
If you take a look at this area right here on the chart, the red circle around this wreck indicates the estimated possible error of positioning the wreck given the technology that was used to navigate that wreck. Now this was the best technology available at the time, done by careful people, had the full backing of the government that this was the accurate position of the wreck. But you see it has got somewhere between 50 and 100 meters of possible uncertainty associated with where you are on the face of the earth when you position that wreck. A modern GPS receiver, the sort of thing you buy for less than $1000 at your marine hardware store, will give you an accuracy near shore about the size of a laser dot that is on the chart right now.
Now if you are navigating your vessel with the understanding that you know your position to within the accuracy of that red dot, you may well be inclined to sail across here. I mean, look how far I am from that wreck. However, what is not indicated on the chart is that that wreck might be anywhere within the red circle that is indicated there because of the positioning accuracy used to locate the feature originally. So what we have now is the navigational capability of the mariner sailing has now exceeded the capability or the accuracy that was used to prepare the data for the chart originally. If we are going to modernize one aspect of the business, we have to modernize the other. The charts, to be useful, have got to have a commensurate level of accuracy associated with the location of the features on there. So that although this was the best that could have been done using the technology of the time, the technology has changed.
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Ms. JOSEPHSON. And about 50 percent of our charts, as I recollect
Dr. EVANS. About 60actually 60 percent of the data that are on our charts are more than 50 years old and were acquired with these kinds of technologies that you see on the table.
So moving on, what is the size of the problem? We mentioned thatjust to give you a graphical representation of what this critical area is all about, the shaded area on this chart is our EEZ. NOAA is charged with the responsibility of mapping the EEZ. That is how big it is. It is enormous. This is all to scale. The little red corner over here is what we have defined by the process that Ms. Josephson spoke of as being the critical areas in that EEZ, that is areas that are critical for safety, areas that are determined by the volume of the cargo that is being carried, number of passengers carried and so on. Here is an illustration on the East Coast of the U.S. The blue areas and only the blue areas are what would go into comprising that critical area. So when we talk about the scale of the job for everything that follows, the 34-year number that was cited earlier, we are talking about being able to work off these blue areas around our coastal waters.
Now just to illustrate that point about how old the data are, the orange data on here are leadline data. This is a section of a chart from Alaska. Here is Juneau just to give you a sort of geographical orientation. The survey data from 1940 to 1963 was collected with echo sounders, but done with old style echo sounders where the data were not recorded automatically and where the navigation was still essentially celestial navigation. The green areas in here were data that were collected from between '64 and '96, at least using modern radio navigation, principally LORAN in this case, other kinds of location for shoreline, but still single beam echo sounder data. So essentially all the data on that chart are data that arguably could be replaced.
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In addition to finding the depths in a general way, you also have to know where the wrecks are. We had a wreck up there before. People report wrecks and obstructions all the time. Our job is to note them on the charts as potential hazards to navigation until we can actually go out and investigate them and determine whether they in fact are hazards and can be removed, if they are able to be removed, or in any case note their location as hazards that they are. But just to give you a little example, this is Long Island here. We keep changing the scales on these charts. And this is just a plot of the current reported wrecks that need to be investigated in that figure.
Well, you saw a picture of the leadline here. He is a sort of old wood cut of people collecting data with it. I mentioned that we moved from leadline data to single beam echo sounders. Here is a survey launch surveying the bottom with a single beam echo sounder. You get a very precise measurement of where the bottom is relative to the ship. And we can navigate the ship accurately, however, you move back and forth in definite patterns and you can easily find features such as those in between the lines that is covered on the bottom, and even using best survey practices there can still be significant features which are missed.
The side scan sonar that was referred to earlier is a device that you can tow behind the ship, greatly slowing the speed at which you can work, but nevertheless you can tow behind the ship and make a picture of things on the bottom. Now although this is an image of it, you don't have any depth information, but having identified this you can take your ship back and do a more precise survey or conceivably even put a diver in the water to locate it. And this would be an example of a NOAA ship using a single beam echo sounder, making a track across the bottom, unfortunately missing a number of these bumps, but detecting the presence of those bumps by towing the sonar behind it then could allow you to go back and reinvestigate.
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The kind of data you would collect from a survey such as this? These are individual soundings. It doesn't matter so much what they are. The spacing here is about 100 meters between the boxes.
Modern technology involves the use of a sonar system mounted again in the ship that gives you full bottom coverage. And everything that is covered in that blue beam there has been recorded. That is, the depth of all of those features has been recorded by the ship. And you get data that look like this. With reasonable practice, one essentially gets 100 percent coverage of the bottom. That also includes those features that you needed to previously pick up with the sonar, the side scan sonar systems.
Just to graphically illustrate that, here is a section of bottom where what is shown in the orange stripe is what you would get with a conventional single beam echo sounder system and what you see is a spike that has been missed in between that would have been resolved by the full bottom system.
The full bottom data have other uses as well, whether they are for other coastal mapping purposes, coastal zone management activities, scientific studies and so on, but we can move on from that, Rich.
OK, ships are getting a lot bigger. The critical thingthe critical issue that I mentioned earlier is not just where are the obstructions and how deep the water is, but really what is the distance between the bottom of the ship and the bottom of the channel. So in addition to knowing where you are headed, which is what you get from a chart, you need to know how much water you have got underneath the keel. Traditionally mariners have gotten that data from published charts that we prepare and making tidal predictions for all the major port areas in the United States, both water depth and currents. The data for those come from tide gauges. We have got some tide gauges over here. The old system is right here.
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I am not going to get up and show it to you. It will take a lot of time to do the song and dance, but afterwards if you would like to come take a look at the old systembasically it is a mechanical system. It has a float and a wire and it measures how deep the water is in a little stilling pool, and from that you get tidal heights. You take many years of those data and you understand what the astronomical forcing is for a particular place and you prepare the tide prediction tables. We maintain a system of those stations all around the coast so that we have the information that is necessary to do those tidal predictions.
Over the last ten years we have replaced this old mechanical system with a modern array of computer based technology that uses ain this case it is an acoustic sensor for measuring the depth of the water to collect these data. The sensor is not as important as the fact that this is a computer-based system that allows you to address the data rather rapidly, and in fact you could integrate other sensors nearby along with the same data screen. So that if you wanted to collect this data in real timeyou are the guy driving that big tanker into a port and you would like to know how much water is there now, not what is in our tide book. The old-fashion way of doing itthere were a few of these in different places around the country. Here is a real time system. It measures and gives you the water depth relative to sum zero.
The way it happens now is with a system we call PORTS, Physical Oceanography Real Time System. You make a water level measurement. You can also measure ocean currents from the bottom. You can make measurements of atmospheric conditions, wind, waves, visibility and so on. You can do this not just at one point, but up and down the whole harbor and the whole bay. And using the computer technology that this system is based on, all of these data can be made available in essentially real time to a mariner.
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So that of the four systems we have right nowhere is an example of data being made available via the Internet. You see the predicted value of the tides of this harbor in Houston, Galveston, and the actual values of the water levels over the last 16 hours, it looks like. You have a measurement of wind direction. You have measurements of velocity, the water velocity in the channel. And over here superimposed on a little map of the chart is a vector that shows actually what the current is doing right now as you are taking a look at that. These data can be available electronically. They can also be available on a voice response system. We have four such systems in operation around the country right now.
So digital charts with smart information on them, vector information, modern hydrographic survey navigated with GPS standards, and at the very least those critical areas of about 40,000 square nautical miles around our coasts, and real-time information that tells you how much water and where the currents are are the ingredients that are necessary to do modern navigation. Now the way that they all get brought together, frankly, is the job of the mariner. It is not the job of the government and it is not our role. Our job is to make those data available so that a person navigating a ship can safely pilot that ship in and out of our ports.
And I will take the last couple of minutes and turn it over to Mr. Castellano, who will give you some information about how the private sector then takes all of these data in electronic form and packages them into something that actually can help us pilot safely through our waters.
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you very much. I would just like to say at this point that we are going to have a vote shortly, and if we can move through whatever information you have for us by that vote, then we can get onto the second panel immediately after the vote.
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Dr. EVANS. Certainly. Thank you.
Mr. SAXTON. You may proceed.
STATEMENT OF COSMO CASTELLANO, PROGRAM MANAGER, SMARTBRIDGE, LOCKHEED MARTIN
Mr. CASTELLANO. Thank you. My name is Cosmo Castellano. And as mentioned, I am the program manager for SmartBridge. This is an integrated bridge program at Lockheed Martin Ocean Radar and Sensor Systems in Syracuse, New York, and I came here to demonstrate our software. However, my computer has not made the trip as nicely as I would have liked to, so we are going to show a few overheads.
The SmartBridge concept integrates a wide array of information that is critical to the mariner, and it provides a variety of displays to best present that information to the mariner on the bridge of the ship. Unlike other integrated bridge systems, our system combines collision avoidance along with situation monitoring in one display, moving radar and ECDIS type functionality on one display. We also are working with communication to vessel traffic management systems that are in place in various ports around the world to allow navigation information from shore to be integrated into the ship's display.
This concept is being developed under a DARPA MARITECH initiative through a Department of Transportation marine administration cooperative agreement. It is the goal of this project to enhance the competitiveness of U.S. ships by providing improved operational performance and safety at reduced cost. SmartBridge has been designed to work on vessels of all sizes. It is scaleable. Its hardware and software can easily be upgraded. SmartBridge also allows a number of fully operational displays to be placed anywhere on the ship, not just the ship's bridge. The ship's position is determined from the SmartBridge interface to a wide variety of ship's sensors shown on the bottom of the slide. Those sensors are primarily the differential GPS that has been spoken of here, as well as other positioning technologies: gyrocompass, radars, sonars and environmental sensors.
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Through data linkage with Lockheed Martin Vessel Traffic Systems products, the SmartBridge Integrated Bridge can provide a full-port traffic picture to the ship's master. Environmental data from NOAA's Physical Oceanographic Real Time System, or PORTS, along with the oceanographic models can be received by SmartBridge and displayed on the electronic nautical chart.
Next slide, please. In the limited time here and without my computer, I will try to speak to these screen dumps of our system. What you see here is the raster type chart that was displayed earlier. Up top is conning information or status information for the ship. On the right-hand panel are controls to operate the radar and to input your voyage plan. Flip to the next chart, please. You can see we have other panels possible, such as one to control an infrared imaging system so that we could get a view from the ship in inclement weather.
Next chart, please. On thewhoops, go back one chart. One comment I wanted to make. On the bottom of the chart you will notice there are alarms, alerts and warnings that come up, so in the event that there is a situation that the mariner needs to respond to, he has to acknowledge those warnings and alerts. Go ahead, Richard.
This slide depicts the NOAA raster chart, and this is really the piece that I wished to show live. If it is available in the anteroom laterthey are busily trying to recover the computerI would like to show it to you. But this is the raster picture. As was mentioned, to the computer this is nothing more than a picture. It is great for us to look at, but there is absolutely no information in this picture that the computer can operate on.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Next slide, please. What we can do in our system is to load in a vector representation of that same scene and geographically synchronize the vector information with the raster information. Ideally we could use a full vector set and just navigate from that. In this vector set each one of the objects on the screen are stored in a data base. From those objects we know how to paint those things on the screen. We can interrogate the objects either automatically or manually to get information about the objects.
Go back to the raster picture, please, the previous slide. With this system, if we loaded in an incomplete vector set, just the set as was shown on NOAA's presentation, you could use this raster picture as the complete picture for a mariner to look at, and with the limited set of vector themes you could then interrogate the vector data through the raster picture to the data base that is underlying it for that information. In that manner, this provides a transition path such that an incomplete vector set may be used in conjunction with raster data as an alternative to a full vector chart.
Subsets of the vector information may be used in layers that are selectively enabled or disabled in a vector nautical chart. And the next slide, please. And for instance, PORTS environmental data can be implemented as dynamic chart objects that are transmitted to the ship and overlaid on the nautical chart as arrows indicating direction of wind speed, with the arrow color used to show a range of magnitude.
Next chart, please. The pictorial view, as in this case of currents in the San Francisco Bay, is much more powerful than a table of numbers, especially as presented on the familiar nautical chart. Real-time environmental data can be of tremendous value to the ship in place of astronomical tide tables. Using nowcast and forecast information, the mariner can safely move deep draft vessels through the harbor waters, not only enhancing safety but promoting and facilitating commerce.
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Combining the power of the vector chart with the more familiar look of the traditional NOAA charts allows this transition path for our nation's hydrographic office to progressively increase the vector chart data sets while allowing for the benefits of electronic navigation and position fixing. The combination of official chart data with the quality assured real-time environmental data provides the tools for the safe operation of our ports and harbors and can only enhance the competitiveness of United States shipping.
I have just touched on the surface of what SmartBridge can do, but it is important to note that SmartBridge can only be as good as the data that goes into it. If the charting data is not GPS positioned, if the depths are no longer accurate due to the lack of updated surveys, if wrecks and obstructions are not identified and if real-time PORTS type information is not available, there is nothing that any modern technology can do to overcome that problem. Simply reformatting old data in new products is misleading to the user and is inconsistent with the quality of today's position measurement capability.
NOAA has made good progress toward providing data in digital form that enables products like SmartBridge, which can enhance and add value to that data, possible. However, as I have just described, NOAA is far behind where the industry feels it should be in the provision of accurate, up-to-date navigation data. Persons from our traffic management group have been to a number of foreign ports and harbors to demonstrate our marine traffic management products. Most of these ports and harbors have current, accurate charts and even types of real-time PORTS data. That obviously puts United States ports at a competitive disadvantage.
I would like to thank you for this opportunity to participate in the hearing. I apologize for the loss of my computer system. I would be willing to demonstrate the SmartBridge software again if you so wish. Thanks.
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Mr. SAXTON. Well, thank you very much for a very thorough presentation. It gives us a good understanding of the great progress that we are capable of making in terms of these items dealing with safety.
Ms. Josephson, you state that the combination of full bottom surveys, digital charts, GPS and PORTS will enhance safety, efficiency and competitiveness. I suspect that all of this will cost a fair amount of money. Do we imply by your statement that we can expect the Administration to request funds to make this combination of tools available in a real basis?
Ms. JOSEPHSON. We are just starting the fiscal year '99 budget process right now, so the answer will be forthcoming. I can't predict at this point. I mean, we have developed, you know, the costs, as you are aware because we submitted them to you, projected cost of doing this, and we will see how the budget process works.
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you very much. I am going to excuse myself just temporarily to take a telephone call, and I yield now to the ranking member.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Thank you very much. I am going to take shameless advantage of the chance I had to ask the question for Mr. Saxton by noting that I saw smiles on everybody's faces when I spoke about Luihi, the island that is now growing off of Hawaii. Obviously this is a little bit different in the way of tracking, but would everything which you have enunciated here today be applicable in following the path of growth of the island and the various elements associated with its waxing and waning?
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. JOSEPHSON. I guess the technologies could be applied, but in actual fact, you know, we have, I guess, one ship in the Pacific, which is basically currently focusing on charting in Alaska. So we don't have a charting capability, you know, in Hawaii. Would you like to respond?
Dr. EVANS. We don't have the capability to go do it. The technology would certainly apply, however.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. I am just interestedI think that we have a rare opportunity as a species to understand literally how the planet grows or how land masses were developed in the ocean. And I know that the University of Hawaii is now engaged in charting, if you will, the history of it, but it may take more than what we are capable of right now, but that is something we can go over at a different time.
Dr. EVANS. It is essentially the same technology. In fact, the technology that we wish to apply to the shallow water charting problem that we are dealing with here today was originally developed for deeper water oceanographic exploration and exploration in support of minerals industry and that sort of thing, so that deeper water multibeam capability has been around for some time. I think it is available to the University of Hawaii. And for awhile that will be the appropriate technology for charting the development of the sea mount. As it becomes shallower, though, we will need to move on with the technology that I was demonstrating today.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Well, inasmuch as I have been caught, I will go right into the question and pretend that I was just putting a preamble in. Part of the plan you outlined today involves leasing dedicated vessels in areas where short-term contractors are not readily available. And you noted that up-front scoring of lease costs and limitations in the length of the leases make this option as expensive as purchasing a new vessel. You also point out that there are no current plans to commit to capital costs of a new vessel. Would the Administration support legislation which for a limited number of ships, say two or three, permit 20-year leases and score lease payments in the year the funds are spent?
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Ms. JOSEPHSON. I think I would have to take that question under advisement. I don't know the answer for the Administration, I would like to respond for the record, if I might.
[The following was received:]
Dedicated long term ship leases, and the ability to score lease payments the same year the funds are expended, represents a practical and cost effective approach to providing the government with platforms essential to acquiring hydrographic data and reducing the nation's critical nautical survey backlog.
In the April 9, 1997, Department of Commerce report in response to direction included in House Report 104-676 (accompanying Public Law 104-208, the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act, 1997) on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) intentions regarding a lease back from the private sector of the hydrographic vessel Fairweather, NOAA estimated that a refurbished Fairweather could provide service for about 15 years. Current law allows for contracts of no more than 7 years. If a private firm were required to recoup costs of refurbishing and equipping the Fairweather in 7 years, annual contract costs to the Government could be prohibitive. The ability to contract for a longer lease would spread the start-up costs over a longer period of time (as was recommended by several of the private sector respondents) thereby making it a more cost-effective option.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. ABERCROMBIE. It is acan you do that? Because it is a point that we have to be able to
Ms. JOSEPHSON. Right.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. [continuing]address if we are to move forward with our colleagues, who will not be as well versed. And we can't have Mr. Castellano repeat himself to 433 other Members.
Ms. JOSEPHSON. Right.
Mr. SAXTON. If I may, this is a hugely important question, I believe, and one that we are trying to deal with on the military side, as well. In order to provide, for example, military housing, we have a huge outlay each year.
Ms. JOSEPHSON. Right.
Mr. SAXTON. When we get ready to put 100 houses on a base in Mr. Abercrombie's district, we have to expense that all in one year.
Ms. JOSEPHSON. Right.
Mr. SAXTON. There is a movement toward leasing military housing. And the advantage is that you get to have your outlays over a period of, say, 20 years. And this is the same deal, but there is no advantage to leasing if we have to expense it all up front in one year. And so somehow we have got to get across this bridge so that we have the tool known as leasing available to help solve these problems.
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Mr. ABERCROMBIE. We don't want to get trapped in a situation where we are thwarted in accomplishing the public purpose because of bookkeeping and accounting, not tricks, but methodologies that don't necessarily relate to the reality of the mission.
Ms. JOSEPHSON. One of the reasons I am hesitating to answer is that I know that in other areas we have been told that if we have a lease the total cost is going to have to score up front, so that is why I want to take it under advisement.
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you.
Ms. JOSEPHSON. I agree with you. We have a number of situations where we would like to do this, to lease in order to avoid the scoring issues, but it is a complex area.
Mr. SAXTON. Well, thank you very much. I have no further questions at this point. We thank you very much for a very thorough explanation of why this issue is important and of the explanation and demonstration of the technology that you have available to you. And I might just add that it is amazing. I found myself caught without a radar in Cape Cod Canal last year and the fog came. And that little GPS that I could hold in my hand literally got us through a very difficult situation, so this technology is really wonderful stuff, and we certainly want to help you proceed to put it to good use for everyone's benefit. Thank you again.
Ms. JOSEPHSON. And I would like to thank the committee for holding this hearing on what we view as a very important area.
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Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Mr. Chairman, might I request that if there are additional questions that we submit them and the panel perhaps be requested to answer in writing?
Mr. SAXTON. Without objection. Thank you very much, and we will be back for the second panel in 15 or 20 minutes. Thank you.
Mr. SAXTON. Hopefully we will be joined by some additional members during the course of the next few minutes. In the meantime, I would like to introduce panel two, leading off with Captain L.D. Rick Amory of the American Pilots Association; Dr. Robert W. Morton, Vice President, Marine Systems and Surveys Operation, Science Applications International Corporation; Jim Provo, Senior Vice President, T. Parker Host, Inc.; also Dr. Martha Grabowski, a member of the National Research Council Marine Board; also Captain Arthur Thomas, Chairman of the Harbor Safety Committee of the San Francisco Bay Region; and Mr. Richard du Moulin, Chairman of the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners. We will begin from your right and proceed to your left, Captain. Proceed.
Captain AMORY. Thank you.
Mr. SAXTON. Welcome aboard, incidentally. I believe this is the first time that you have been here.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Captain AMORY. Yes, in this capacity.
Mr. SAXTON. We are pleased to have you.
STATEMENT OF CAPTAIN L.D. RICK AMORY, AMERICAN PILOTS ASSOCIATION
Captain AMORY. Thank you. Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, I am Captain Rick Amory, President of the Virginia Pilots Association. On behalf of the American Pilots Association, a national trade association representing the United States' 1100 State licensed maritime pilots, thank you for this opportunity to participate in your oversight on the present state of NOAA's hydrographic charting activities and other maritime services. While the VPA and the APA fully support NOAA's efforts to use the latest technologies to minimize its hydrographic charting activities, I would like to take this opportunity to specifically address the work done by NOAA's National Ocean Service regarding real-time tide and current information that is relied on by my fellow pilots and the maritime industry in our country.
Before I begin to address this issue, let me first thank the committee for its past efforts to increase support for the critical navigation services that NOAA provides to our nation. These increases have allowed NOAA to make dramatic improvements to its chart production capabilities. This is just the first step, however, to restoring NOAA's navigation services to the level they need to be at to ensure the nation's maritime industry has reliable tools such as charts and tide and current data.
At the current annual funding level of $11 million for tide and current information programsand to my understanding this is what is proposed for fiscal year '98NOAA will not be able to maintain its national water level observation network, which provides the foundation for NOAA's critical tide and current services. In addition, although the technology and the know-how exists to provide Physical Oceanographic Real Time Information Systems, PORTS, to improve the safety and efficiency of maritime commerce by providing highly accurate observations of actual water level conditions, no moneys have been set aside for NOAA to work with interested ports on a national basis to provide the navigational information systems. Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, I strongly urge you to increase funding to these programs to enable the National Water Level Observation Network to be modernized and maintained, and for PORTS to be provided to ports that need their services and can support their operation.
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The challenge for today's modern pilot is knowing precisely what the ship's location is at all times, allowing him to safely navigate the vessel with regard to precise hydrographic information. Ninety-eight percent of today's U.S. bulk products are exported by ships. Vessels have gotten so large and intermodal transportation so complex that the ability to add a few extra inches of cargo or better schedule a transit by just a few minutes using real-time water level information can result in huge rewards in dollars of revenue.
The safety issue is paramount. U.S. waterborne trade is expected to increase by 50 percent over the next decade. The consequences from even one major accident can be catastrophic. The APA is deeply concerned that the committee recognize the importance of NOAA's charting and real-time tide and current programs that are used by pilots every day around the Nation to navigate safely and efficiently. Pilots and ship owners rely heavily on NOAA's national standards for accurate charts, water levels and current information when making decisions regarding safe navigation of vessels.
Navigation is made difficult by confined maneuvering areas, depth limitations and changing water level and currents due to unpredictable weather conditions. Just as wind forces can adversely affect an aircraft, so can water current affect the movement and maneuverability of a ship. When currents are combined with changing water levels and other dynamic factors, the need for real-time information becomes essential to allowing the right decision to be made at the right moment. This scenario to an airline pilot needing to know wind shear prior to taking off or landing.
The nation's standards for these services must be protected in order for our ports to continue to compete in global economic marketplace. Mariners must be able to rely on timely, accurate, quality-controlled information. Inaccurate information is far worse than no information.
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The dredging and maintenance of channels and harbors provides the pilot with deeper waters to navigate in. Knowing the accurate water levels and currents is equally important. Even with all the dredging efforts, some ships which continue to call on our ports require lightering in order to meet the draft restrictions at certain locations. If quality controlled real-time water level information were available, it would allow the shipper to accurately calculate tons of cargo relating to safe drafts required.
NOAA's navigation products, particularly the tide and current data, help make our transportation infrastructure more efficient and our nation more competitive in the global marketplace. Mr. Chairman, these major undertakings by the U.S. Government to provide accurate information for the safe and efficient navigation of vessels are critical in today's economic climate. The NOAA tide and current data programs have proven their effectiveness and are depended on daily by the pilot members of the APA while performing their duties. We urge your continued active support in having Congress make the necessary investment in NOS marine navigation services which are essential for maintaining economically competitive U.S. shipping.
On behalf of the American Pilot Association, thank you again for this opportunity to present our views for your consideration. I will be happy to answer any questions at this time.
[Statement of L.D. Rick Amory may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you very much, Captain. Dr. Morton.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSTATEMENT OF DR. ROBERT W. MORTON, VICE PRESIDENT, MARINE SYSTEMS AND SURVEYS OPERATION, SCIENCE APPLICATIONS INTERNATIONAL CORPORATION
Dr. MORTON. Thank you, sir. As we have heard today, it is clear that modern technology can provide significant benefits to the safety and efficiency of marine commerce, but only if comprehensive hydrographic data are available that meet the requirements of these new systems. Fortunately, many of the advancements that have improved vessel navigation also have direct application to the methods by which hydrographic data are acquired, and surveys can now be accomplished with 100 percent bottom coverage that is critical for the production of electronic charts and precise navigation of commercial vessels. However it should be pointed out that this technology is still very new. Improvements to the instrumentation and procedures are continually being made. These improvements generate much more data, and unless they are used in an appropriate manner, there is a definite potential for error or omission.
I represent an organization that has spent the last several years developing systems and conducting surveys to meet the strict requirements for hydrographic surveying. NOAA is one of many clients we support, however they are unique in that they play a large role in setting the standards to which our system and procedures must adhere. SAIC was fortunate to be awarded the first contract that NOAA issued for hydrographic surveying using multibeam technology they discussed earlier today, and we are now preparing for a second contract to conduct a similar survey in the Gulf of Mexico.
I believe that the contracting relationship between NOAA and SAIC was successful during execution of the first project, although it was a very complex and difficult effort. Throughout the duration of that contract, NOAA was extremely rigid relative to quality control issues, thereby insuring valid data. However, they were flexible in allowing SAIC to modify the survey schedules and plans in order to deal with the problems we encountered. I can honestly state that NOAA did their part to make the first contract survey a success.
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I can also state that the lessons learned in that survey were incorporated in the Gulf of Mexico contracts that are now under negotiation, including more concise language concerning accuracy and coverage as well as utilization of computer-generated quality control. Furthermore, the use of the Brooks Act changes the emphasis in NOAA's selection process to one of technical capability rather than cost. All of these changes should make future contracts more efficient and profitable both for NOAA and the contractors.
I believe that this is a key point. If NOAA is to be successful in contracting surveys over the long-term, it must find a way to maintain the quality of data while making the venture a profitable one for contractors. This leads directly to the issue of liability insurance, which is now included as a requirement in the Gulf of Mexico surveys. Our investigations has found that this is simply not a cost-effective option. First, it is not clear that the insurance would be available for the extended time required, and second, the costs for a single survey sheet exceed the overall funding available for the entire project.
Furthermore, it is not the survey contractor who actually puts the depth down on the chart. That is now and should continue to be NOAA's responsibility. The fact is that the quality control procedures required by NOAA do provide a traceability back to raw data that will allow NOAA to make appropriate charting decisions. However, these are complicated decisions that must take into account the performance specifications of the modern instrumentation. I believe that NOAA is now capable of accepting that responsibility and should remain in that role by continuing to develop and enforce the appropriate quality control criteria. This means that NOAA must maintain a thorough understanding of the technology and procedures utilized by the survey contractors, a very difficult task during this period of rapid technology growth.
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I am also aware of the restrictions that have been placed on NOAA with regard to improvement of data acquisition technology. And although I agree with the emphasis placed on contracting, I am concerned that NOAA will not be able to maintain its expertise over the long-term without an ability to utilize such equipment in house. If NOAA does not have sufficient experience and qualified hydrographers, they will soon be unable to realistically judge the quality and efficiency of contracted surveys or to participate in the decisions made by the International Hydrographic Organization regarding the criteria for accuracy of hydrographic data. I believe an appropriate level of technology improvement should be preserved within the NOAA budget to insure that the agency is able to maintain its role of setting standards and that will allow NOAA to accept the liability associated with production of nautical charts. I would even go one step further and suggest that NOAA should be given responsibility for initiating and developing new technology and procedures to improve the efficiency and accuracy of hydrographic surveys.
In summary, we at SAIC look forward to participating in the survey of critical areas of U.S. coastline and continuing to work with NOAA to ensure that the data acquired are compatible with the requirements of modern navigation. In order to accomplish this, we feel it is critical that NOAA be given the resources to maintain its expertise, to set the standards, provide the quality assurance and accept the liability that is inherent with the production of nautical charts. Thank you.
[Statement of Dr. Robert Morton may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you very much, Dr. Morton. Mr. Provo.
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STATEMENT OF JAMES S. PROVO, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, T. PARKER HOST, INC.
Mr. PROVO. Mr. Chairman, my name is Jim Provo, and I am Senior Vice President of T. Parker Host, Incorporated. I come before you today on behalf of the National Mining Association and as President of the National Association of Maritime Organizations.
The NMA member companies account for approximately three-fourths of the coal production in the United States, over 1 billion tons annually, and a vast majority of mined minerals, including iron ore, copper, gold, silver, uranium, lead, zinc and phosphate. The mining industry relies on our ports and the services provided by NOAA to export our minerals and coal to the markets throughout the world. The United States is the second largest coal exporter in the world, and in 1996 exported 91.5 million short tons valued at $3.8 billion. NMA members include major coal export companies. U.S. mineral exports were $32 billion in '95, the last year for which the numbers are available.
NAMO represents its members in all matters on a national level that affect foreign and domestic waterborne commerce using U.S. ports. The organization consists of steamship associations and maritime exchanges. We focus on the attention of operational issues that affect the viability of the steamship industry. NAMO's mission is to improve the climate for international shipping in the United States. It was created to focus Federal Government's attention on the needs of steamship agents, owners and operators, and others engaged in ocean shipping. Six successful years after the creation, NAMO is now 38 members strong coast to coast representing various businesses in the maritime industry. NAMO has a strong Congressional membership of 36 Senators and 139 Members of the House.
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As your invitation to me describes, the purpose of this oversight hearing is to examine and present the state of NOAA hydrographic charting activities and what should be done about the future of these activities. I am convinced that were it not for the active support of the House Resources Committee, the funding increase for NOAA's mapping, charting programs for the past two fiscal years, which were the first since 1981, would not have been possible. We greatly appreciate your leadership, Mr. Chairman, on this matter and seek your continued support, for the task of making the nation's nautical charts as accurate and dependable as possible is not finished.
I am sure that you have heard statistics before, but they do bear repeating. Some U.S. coastal waters have never been completely surveyed, including 80 percent of the nation's top ten ports. At current funding levels, even with the recent funding increase made possible by this committee, it would take three decades to complete the survey backlog. There have also been dramatic cutbacks in the number of annual new charts.
Since 1955 the nation's volume of international trade has quadrupled, with the United States achieving the largest waterborne import and export trade in the entire world. More than 100 public ports handled more than 1 billion tons of cargo in '95. This generated 1.6 million jobs, $21 billion in tax revenues and $16.3 billion in custom collections. Moreover, U.S. ocean-borne trade is projected to increase by 50 percent over the next ten years. Yet Federal Government spending for the support of marine navigation related services, except for the recent increase for charting programs, have steadily declined. The declining investment has created a situation that is unacceptable to those who depend upon the safe navigation of our marine waters and their businesses and trade, unacceptable to those who believe that our coastal environments are unnecessarily in danger and unacceptable, hopefully, to the members of the committee.
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NOAA has made great strides recently in streamlining its nautical charting program by converting its suite of paper charts to digital raster data base. This has enabled NOAA to dramatically accelerate chart production time, make charts updating easier, and reduce the time required to chart hydrographic survey data. The value of any nautical chart, however, is in the accuracy of the information. And that will only be achieved through the stepped-up program of acquiring new survey data. Only through improved data acquisition will the nation's nautical charts be truly reliable to those who depend upon them.
A modest investment in modernizing the Nation and NOAA's marine navigation services include nautical charts, the National Water Level Observation Network, tide tables, water current data and the availability of proven effective Physical Oceanographic Real-Time Systems, PORTS, which has been a Federal responsibility since 1807 and a promise to those who have been involved in trade and maritime commerce which would have many benefits, benefits that would be over time in great value in the cost of the investment to modernize the Nation and NOAA's maritime navigation.
In the report, Mr. Chairman, I do have some outlines of benefits. I realize the red light is on, and I will conclude my testimony.
[Statement of Mr. James Provo may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you very much, Mr. Provo. Dr. Grabowski.
STATEMENT OF DR. MARTHA GRABOWSKI, MEMBER, NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL MARINE BOARD
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Dr. GRABOWSKI. Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, it is my pleasure to be here today and to present testimony to you on the subject of hydrographic charting to assure safe and efficient ports and waterways for the nation. My name is Martha Grabowski. I am a member of the Marine Board at the National Research Council. I have chaired one major Marine Board study on navigation and piloting and assisted on several other studies that investigated hydrographic services and charting activities.
My testimony will draw on the results of several recent Marine Board studies and provide additional personal comments derived from my independent research work. I will first address the underlying needs for improvements in hydrographic surveys and charting services in the U.S. ports and the general safety and economic benefits that can be expected as a result. I will describe conclusions from recent Marine Board work concerning appropriate roles for the Federal Government and private sector in providing these services and finally discuss strategies for producing and providing electronic charting services in the future.
A number of Marine Board studies have concluded that because of the widespread public benefits and broad impacts on the national economy from maritime trade, there is a compelling national interest in supporting Federal programs that maintain safe and efficient ports and waterways. While this Federal support should be maintained, it can also be supplemented with local support where appropriate. It is possible to obtain more cost efficiencies in NOAA by using private industry to accomplish much of the data collection, data management and production of charting projects. Therefore, while support for essential Federal initiatives and investments must be maintained, NOAA must also select the most efficient and effective strategies for future progress to obtain the benefits from new hydrographic charting technologies.
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Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee, NOAA is challenged to fulfill its strategic charting mission and make the necessary investments to assure adequate future capability using advanced technologies to meet critical user needs. The three basic tasks that must be supported are data collection and verification, data management and production and distribution of charts and related products. The Marine Board, in its 1994 report, ''Charting A Course Into The Digital Future,'' recommended that the most important public sector responsibility is management and control of the content and quality of the data that support navigation. The private sector can assist in data collection and product distribution using modern qualified technology and techniques, but NOAA must perform the central data management and quality control mission.
For the most part, NOAA has been making significant changes in its operations to contract out those tasks that private industry can best perform and is attempting to maintain its core responsibilities and capabilities to meet public expectations. Private contractors, as we have heard, are engaged in hydrographic surveying task and in chart production activities. This transition of operations and reduction of the Federal presence in these areas will continue and will need to be monitored to assure that efficiencies are in fact achieved and key capabilities are retained when needed.
The maritime industry, meanwhile, is impatient with the pace of transition to new technologies and improved services, especially in the areas, as we have heard, of accurate update surveying, data collection and dissemination and electronic charting. In a way, it appears that NOAA has fallen behind and not caught up with modern technology. It is true, as we have just heard, that many approaches to major ports have not been surveyed in decades. Areas around eight of the nation's ten top ports need extensive resurveying. While simple electronic charts are being made available, the raster charts that we saw demonstrated in the first panel are not produced with the type of digital data base that makes them acceptable for international standards in the future. And while NOAA has developed a real-time system for disseminating oceanographic, tide and current data, there are no Federal funds available for national implementation and operations.
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The United States was one of the leading nations in the development of electronic chart technology. In 1995, the International Maritime Organization, IMO, adopted performance standards for electronic chart display and information systems, ECDIS, that now represent the world's goal for electronic replacement of paper charts. This system requires the use of digitized vector data, as we have heard today. The vector format, for ECDIS, requires significantly more original investment to produce, but produces long-term benefits in terms of accuracy, usability and efficiency. ECDIS is the only electronic chart that will legally substitute for a paper chart under existing international agreement.
A majority of modern mariners would like to have ECDIS charts for use as soon as possible. The production of these charts to the agreed international standards has proven more difficult than originally anticipated, which has led to the development of a proposed interim solution, so-called hybrid charts that use some vector data and some raster data.
The question now is which overall strategy is best for the Nation in the long run as it moves to electronic delivery of hydrographic charts. In independent research on navigation and piloting systems that are being developed and deployed, as we saw in the SmartBridge program, a number of findings have indicated that NOAA's plans to develop and expand vector chart products are worthwhile endeavors that need to be supported. Full vector charts are needed as critical input to most shipboard advanced navigation systems, and the major benefits of new technology on a ship bridge will not be realized without the advent of vector data. In addition, continued support for producing raster charts is also justified, because they provide an interim benefit to all mariners. However, it is believed that support for NOAA's hybrid chart product, which incorporates pieces of vector data and pieces of raster data, is less important or urgent.
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In sum, new technologies are rapidly changing the traditional methods for hydrographic data collection and for the delivery of nautical charts to the mariner. These advances are important to the safety and efficiency of maritime trade in U.S. ports and waterways and should receive adequate Federal support. NOAA and the other Federal agencies are challenged to implement these new technologies while providing effective, accurate and reliable charting services to the maritime community. It will be important for NOAA to justify support for its hydrographic programs and assure that they meet the needs of the mariners and the general public. Thank you.
[Statement of Dr. Martha Grabowski may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. SAXTON. Dr. Grabowski, thank you very much. Captain Thomas.
STATEMENT OF CAPTAIN ARTHUR THOMAS, CHAIR, HARBOR SAFETY COMMITTEE OF THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY REGION
Captain THOMAS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Today I am appearing before you as Chairman of the San Francisco Bay Region Harbor Safety Committee. I want you to know that I am also and have been an active licensed State pilot for over 25 years. I serve as Vice President of the American Pilots Association, and as Vice President of the International Maritime Pilots Organization.
My objective today is to recommend to this committee that a state-of-the-art navigation system be developed for San Francisco Bay waterways. Some of the technologies that should be included in such an integrated system have already been tested in our area. Other technologies are currently under review and modification, but nowhere in the world have all of these technologies been integrated into a modern system that assures maximum commercial benefit with the greatest protection to the environment.
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Given the partnership arrangements between the maritime interests within the government and the private sector that already exist in the San Francisco area, we can think of no better location to implement this sort of exciting project. The San Francisco Bay Region is a very unique waterway. As a whole, the bay is the fifth largest U.S. port in oil handling, the fourth largest container port in the country. The bay contains 11 ports within her boundaries, over 200 miles of ship navigation routes and over 200 berths for ocean-going vessels. The bay handled over 9000 large vessel transits last year, and we expect that number to grow. In addition, the bay is a major boating and commercial sportfishing area. You would enjoy sailing your boat there.
The Harbor Safety Committee, which I chair, was created by the State legislature to address two primary objectives, to obtain and provide the highest environmental standards possible for our magnificent waterways, and number two, to ensure that our ports are among the most competitive, efficient and safest in the world. The committee's membership represents the entire spectrum of the maritime industry. It includes environmentalists, port authorities, labor and U.S. Government officials. All of these interest are very deeply committed to enhancing maritime safety on the bay.
The ports of San Francisco Bay have long been recognized as strategic transportation links in the trade infrastructure and economic health of the nation. In 1994 alone over 67 million tons of cargo were imported or exported through the San Francisco Bay ports. Now those cargoes were produced either in inland States for export or were received for inland distribution. So the activities associated with these ports are really only the tip of the iceberg of the total economic activity involved.
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One of the major challenges facing our Harbor Safety Committee is the task of developing and implementing the best navigational system for a bay in which the weather patterns are constantly and instantaneously changing. Similarly, we want to design such a system that meets the rapidly changing shipping practices in one of the most challenging waterways of the world.
Those familiar with San Francisco Bay and its tributaries know that the ship channels in which we operate are extremely shallow indeed. Those channels were designed in the 1920's and 1930's for ships that averaged six to seven thousand gross tons and approximately 25 feet in draft. When I started piloting in 1972, the average size vessel was about 11,000 gross tons and about 26 to 27 feet of draft. Currently the averages are over 30,000 gross tons and in excess of 30 feet of draft. And we routinely handle vesselsfor example the sister to the Exxon Valdez, the Sea River Long Beach, is a regular customer, as was the Valdez. But tankers of over 200,000 dead weight tons routinely call with drafts of 50 feet. We now have new container vessels that will be calling in our port. I point out the Regina Maersk class of vessel, which is a ship of 81,488 gross tons, 1090 feet in length, 141 feet in beam and draws 46 feet of water for draft, and the ability to load 155 tons of cargo or anywhere from eight to ten containers for every inch of increased draft on the ship.
Both our tankers and our container vessels are being constrained in their loading abilities because of the shallow drafts, the shallowness of our channels. And what is happening is we need very accurate water level and current information in order to maximize the loading on those ships. The current international trend is toward larger, deeper ships. For example that container ship, or for the average container ship, an increase of one inch of draft can increase revenues from eight to $50,000 depending on the nature of the cargo. Each additional foot of draft can accommodatethat the port can accommodatecan mean over $120,000 for every transit, and to a shipper that means that there are increased revenues. A port, like the Port of Oakland within San Francisco, served 1637 ships in 1995. An additional inch of draft would mean annual revenue increases of over $550,000.
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In any event, sir, we would appreciate that our written testimony directs us to a project for San Francisco Bay which we are urging the Subcommittee to recommend, and we are urging NOAA to continue. We provide the variety of navigational opportunities needed to evaluate these advanced technologies, and we believe that in place in San Francisco Bay are all of the agencies and the interested individuals and entities ready to accomplish the project.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[Statement of Captain Arthur Thomas may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you very much, Captain Thomas. Mr. du Moulin.
STATEMENT OF RICHARD DU MOULIN, CHAIRMAN, INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF INDEPENDENT TANKER OWNERS
Mr. DU MOULIN. Thank you. My name is Richard du Moulin. I am Chairman of Marine Transport Lines. We are the oldest shipping company in the United States, founded in 1816. We are based in New Jersey. We have a fleet of U.S. and foreign flag tankers and other types of vessels. Ten of our ships were in Desert Storm.
I am also acting for the next two years as Chairman of INTERTANKO, which is the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners. We have over 500 members amounting to a fleet of over 155 million deadweight from 40 countries. It is a majority of the world's tanker fleet, and we import over 60 percent of the oil that comes into the United States. Our goals are to promote free competition, safe transport and cleaner seas.
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All ship owners have a common need for better charts and navigational services, but tankers were singled out by OPA 90 for special treatment. OPA 90 effectively provided for oil spill cleanup. But it went into punishment that goes beyond anything in the rest of the world, particularly the Natural Resource Damage Assessment, and unfortunately OPA 90 failed to provide adequately for prevention. OPA 90 put 100 percent of the liability of an accident on the tanker operator, but tankers are only part of a complex transportation system. We do not operate in a vacuum. The system includes the ship, pilots, tugs, vessel traffic control systems (VTS), terminals, aids to navigation and charts. Unfortunately, U.S. systems are generally deficient when you look at the volume of traffic in the United States, the extreme legal liability and the strong public demands.
VTS, for example, where we have it is behind the great forts of the world, such as Rotterdam. Terminals, many are deficient. They are decrepit and mainly built for ships of the age 50 years ago. Charts are not accurate enough, as you have heard from other people today.
INTERTANKO last year put together an important Port and Terminal Safety Study, a copy of which is being provided here for the record, which analyzes the situation and makes recommendations. With regard to charts, try to imagine an airplane pilot trying to fly safely with conflicting data or no data at all regarding the height of mountains, obstructions such as antennas and even the altitude of the runway he has to land on. Well, shipmasters and ship pilots face the same thing every day. The public is remarkably tolerant of airplane accidents, despite the loss of life. Yet for oil pollution the public has zero tolerance and seeks punishment.
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Clearly the public perception of the tanker industry is quite bad. But let me just recite the facts. Over the past 20 years operating pollution has been reduced by 85 percent. These are international statistics, not just in America. This is mainly due to segregated ballast, which has been implemented in the world fleet. Accidental pollution is down 50 percent over 20 years. Oil pollution from tankers is a source of 12 percent of the oil in oceans. Over two-thirds of the oil in the oceans come from ports and industry and the public ashore. Tanker owners invest 20 percent of the cost of a new ship in safety and environmental features, which is twice the ratio of land-based industry. And we are now spending billions of dollars for fleet replacement, as mandated by OPA 90 and the IMO international regulations.
To give an example of the scale of what pollution really is, Chevron in their annual report described that in 1996 for all the ships they own and operate plus all the ones they charter from independent tanker owners, the amount of oil spilled was comparable to a motorist filling up his tank with gasoline 600 times and dropping five drops.
But any drop is too much. Our goal is zero pollution, but we can't accomplish it without systems improvement. We can't do it alone, and accurate charts are a part of the system. They are the foundation of the information we use. Without better charts, we lose the benefit of better pilotage. We lose the benefit of crew training, the simulator training we are doing quite extensively. We lose the benefit of ISM, which stands for International Safety Management, which is what IMO, the international regulations, require all tanker operators to have implemented by July 1, 1998. We are losing the benefit of the new standards for training certification and watch keeping which have been adopted internationally. We are losing the benefit of GPS, electronic charting and double hull, all because we don't have the right information. In effect, we stand the chance of having electronically aided groundings.
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U.S. and international tanker owners have made the commitment to safer transportation. Now Congress must commit the funding needed by NOAA, the Army Corps of Engineers for dredging, the Coast Guard for VTS, for example, by freeing up the harbor maintenance trust funds. We also need Federal Government agencies such as Coast Guard and NOAA to assert Federal authority for marine safety and operations and oppose well-intentioned but dangerous attempts by some States to preempt Federal authority. We appreciate NOAA's assurance of commitment to work with INTERTANKO to preserve a strong Federal role.
I thank you for the opportunity today to discuss these important issues.
[Statement of Mr. Richard du Moulin may be found at end of hearing.]
Mr. SAXTON. Well, thank you very much. I would like to thank all of you for what I think was very useful and articulate testimony about a subject which is certainly of concern to all of us.
We have been joined by the Chairman of the Coast Guard Subcommittee, the gentleman from Maryland, who is also part of this Subcommittee. He does a great job. We have got a history in the Congress of giving the Coast Guard more jobs each year with less money to carry out their tasks. He has got a very difficult task, and we are glad that you are able to be here.
Let me just ask a question which I think is really the key to this entire thing. Many of you or some of you, at least, mentioned the inaccuracy of current day charts. And that is obviously something that I can relate to, because without good data which is transferred to usable forms called charts, it is very difficult to do good coastal navigation. And obviously we are always concerned about coming into ports. And, my district borders the Delaware River ports, and that was a 90-mile stretch from the ocean to Philadelphia and, of course, on inland to Trenton. And without good charts those kinds of runs can be very dangerous.
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Do any of you have other thoughts that you would wish to share with us about accuracy of charts?
Mr. PROVO. I am glad you asked.
Mr. SAXTON. I thought that rolled up chart in front of you had a purpose.
Mr. PROVO. Thank you. As you probably know because you are a great sailor
Mr. SAXTON. I don't know how great.
Mr. PROVO. Well, I don't either, but that is what
Mr. SAXTON. I float around mostly.
Mr. PROVO. Some years ago the Coast Guard, in its overzealous way of trying to impose the penalties on vessels, was going at the charts provided by NOAA. Now in order to overcome this, a lot of the owners and operators started buying the British Admiralty chart. And they bought the British Admiralty charts because the British Admiralty charts are up to date. In sailing and mariners are aware thatI will take this for an example. I am not going to open the chart, but this is an interest to the Chesapeake Bay. It was issued in September of 1996. The Notice to Mariners is issued weekly, as you probably know. It is, most of the time, the duty of the second or third mate to make all these changes. So at 50 of these a year, we would have to take this on board for some poor third mate that hadn't been in the country or the ship hadn't been in the country in over a year, but he has his chart, it is just not up to date. The British Admiralty chart, however, has got for the yearthis is also in 1995, '96 and '97. They have recorded on the bottom of their chart one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight changes that have been made so far on this chart in 198797, excuse me.
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So, you know, there has to be some placeif the British can do it, we sure as hell got to be able to do it. And I know we are moving through a different era and we are going to data bases and all this, but we are going to still need charts. We have to find a better way than issuing a Notice to Mariners and not in having charts that are on board that are updated which the Coast Guard is more than willing to assess a penalty against a ship for not having proper charts on board. That is the purpose for the chart, what NOAA is so far behind in trying to do. I think with what we have asked ships to do on OPA 90 and we put alland it has been said that we put a hell of a lot of burden on ship masters, the pilots, the owners and the operators. It is certainly our duty as a country of maritime industry to provide the tools for the people to be able to comply with these regulations.
Mr. SAXTON. Thank you very much. The first panel, of course, was the NOAA panel, and they laid out an ambitious, although I must say almost wholly unfunded plan to bring us into a situation where we solve many of these problems. If the plan that was outlined by NOAA today, which is attended to address the survey backlog and integrate surveys, tide and current data and other pertinent data into a format that can be used by today's mariners through digital schemes of one kind or another, if that plan were adopted and funded, would it solve most or all of the problems that you have related to us today?
Mr. DU MOULIN. It would be the building block upon which you could start solving the other problems. Vessel traffic control systems is a major problem, but it is based on having accurate data. Pilots need to be better trained and have the lower pilots moved out and everyone else moved up. Ship operators have to have the same applied to them, but underneath it all is the data that you build the system around. And there is a tremendous effort being made by pilots, by ship owners around the world to upgrade themselves, but if they don't have the tools, the rest of the system just can't work.
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Mr. SAXTON. Any of you can respond to this if you will. Do you believe there is a role for the private sector here? And if so, what is it, how big is it, what are the problems involved in it?
Captain THOMAS. As possibly one of those lower pilots that ought to be moved out, but I will respond to what you have said, Mr. Chairman, it appears that at least in San Francisco as a demonstration, there is a role for the private sector. And that partnering is being accomplished as we speak now. And I would think that those individuals, as self interested as they may be, such as INTERTANKO members, could, I am sure, partner with the Federal and State and local government agencies so that things are accomplished on a safe level.
As to your original question about NOAA and what the first panel testified to, I think that what you heard from members of this panel, the response would be that yes, what NOAA has asked for would accomplish the task if in fact NOAA is providing the digital base in the correct format that it can bethat it is recognized by the international community and that the data is utilized, but a qualified yes to both questions.
Mr. PROVO. May I say one other thing, and then I will shut up?
Mr. SAXTON. Go ahead.
Mr. PROVO. You know, I think question two, what cost to the private sector, I think that has already been attended to. And when I say it has been attended to, we have this great harbor maintenance fee that we have that you guys are holding hostage. And I guess you have to for whatever reason, but if you would let some of it go, I think some of this could be helped to fund NOAA and the problems we have today. So I think the private sector, shippers, importers, if we want to refer to that, have already made their contribution. Why can't we use some of that money? I think you have got to go vote.
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Mr. SAXTON. Yes, we have another one. Do you want to ask your questions at this point and then we will see where we are at the conclusion of your questions?
Mr. GILCHREST. I will just make a quick comment. I don't think we areactually that is a good comment, and we need to figure out what we are going to do with the harbor maintenance fee. And I think the harbor maintenance feedepending on who you talk to will depend on how the money should be spent. You get rid of the harboryou share the harbor maintenance fee and then you have a problem, maybe, with San Francisco Bay, as far a maintenance is concerned. And you give it over to the people who do the charts andthat is an issue that has to be discussed, and potentially with Federal courts it might be declared unconstitutional. So that is a whole other issue. What I would like toI don't have much time. I would like to make sort of a philosophical comment first and then discuss some of the specifics.
If we could pull back a little bit and look at the broad overview of planet Earth and we see the development and evolution of civilization, it has happened almost in a very arbitrary sense. The growth of nations, new technology, the international marketplace has striven to achieve a level of standard of living for people all over the world, especially the industrialized nations. But now we are coming to a point where some of you mentioned in the early part of this century ships wereI think it was the gentleman from San Francisco, how big ships were before World War II, how big they were after World War II. Now we are looking at channels that need to be 50 feet in order for ships to come in. How deep does the dredging have to be? Where does the dredging material go? What is the optimum size? Have we achieved it?
Page 62 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We are working with a human population that is getting bigger and more sophisticated, demanding more things with resources that are finite, so we have demands by more people on less and less resources. We all here are discussing the fact that we have to have international coordination on all of our mapping so it isthe ships can be safe. I would like to ask when I am done with this how the British do it and why we can't do it that way. If they can map the Chesapeake Bay, I don't see why we can't map the Chesapeake Bay. And if there is anybody here from the Department of Commerce, I would like to figure out how they can do it. Maybe they are just better at it because they are the ones that colonized us so they know all that stuff.
But because of the constraints of time what I would like to do, Mr. Chairman, I would like to write down a list of the questions that I have and then fax, e-mail, mail, however we do it now, to each of the panel members here in the hopes that we canthese are issues that are sort of mysterious and you can see that there is not a whole lot of members here, so there is not a lot of interest in it, but it is pretty critical. These are pretty critical issues, especially if we are looking at a nation's economy. Shipping is becoming more and more important. Is there a sizemaybe somebodyMr. du Moulin, maybe you could answer this. Is there an optimum size to a ship? Do they ever get too big? What is the optimum size?
Mr. DU MOULIN. In the tanker industry, ships have stopped getting bigger. You have got the 200,000 to 400,000 tonners coming over to Loop. These ships are trading into the deep water ports of the world. But tankers have stabilized in terms of size.
Mr. GILCHREST. And that is becausewhy have they stabilized?
Page 63 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. DU MOULIN. Because they have proven that in terms of economies of scale, versus flexibility, that the classes of ship we now have: the 300,000 ton VLCCs, the 150,000 tonners for the Suez Canal, the 90,000 ton Aframax class; these have become standards.
Mr. GILCHREST. What do they draw? What is the draft on that?
Mr. DU MOULIN. The deepestthe big ones, the super tankers, will draw generally about 70 feet.
Mr. GILCHREST. 70 feet.
Mr. DU MOULIN. So they don't come into very many U.S. ports.
Mr. GILCHREST. Right.
Mr. DU MOULIN. The handier ships generally draw 40, 45 feet. So it is not such a problem of making the ports that much deeper. It is getting them to the depth that they should be, and dredging just hasn't kept up. Container ships, I think, are the ones that are now growing more rapidly. Tankers have stabilized.
Let me just talk about the issue of the funding. The simplest, the cheapest part of the whole system is just the raw data as to the depth of the water and the configuration of bottom. From that, industry can provide technologies for navigation. Ship owners are very happy to invest in modern navigational gear. We have it already. It is relatively cheap compared to the ship itself. And so the main thing is starting with a foundation of data. After that point funding will come in from industry.
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The other fact is that every accident you prevent is saving a lot of money, so it is a good investment. Billions have been put into oil pollution response, cleaning up oil, but you don't need all that money expended if you have fewer accidents. So it is a real payback by getting the data. That is the best payback in the system.
Mr. GILCHREST. I guess we have 30 second for the next
Mr. SAXTON. Let me just interrupt
Mr. GILCHREST. I don't think I'm going toI have to go testify in Appropriations, so I won't be able to come back.
Mr. SAXTON. OK, me too. I have to go to the same place.
Captain THOMAS. Just one quick analogy if I may, Mr. Chairman. We are sitting in the Longworth Building. On container ships, if we take the Longworth Building, duplicate it, make it double in length, now we are talking about the kind of container ship that is currently being constructed and calling in our ports. And they are very constrained by their draft and by the channel widths and so forth. But I think perhaps, just perhaps, the container industry is seeing that economy of scale beginning to stop because the ports, generally speaking, the less developed ports, cannot handle all of those containers that call on a ship of over six or seven thousand container equivalent units.
Page 65 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GILCHREST. So we have ports that might be 35 feet now, maybe 40, and quite ayear after year people are asking us to dredge the approach channels of the ports deeper and deeper. Do you think that is coming to an end now?
Captain THOMAS. No, I don't think so. You are being askedports are being asked to dredge deeper and deeper and deeper because for years they have not been dredged. And I think that is a very valid point to consider. The Port of Oakland is one, for example. We were 25 years in the planning of a dredging to 38 feet. I wasn't even a pilot, and I have been a pilot for over 25 years, when I engaged with the Port of Oakland and the Corps of Engineers in planning that deepening project. 38 feet was envisioned back in 1970 as the deepest possible that that port would ever have to go to. Now they are talking 48 feet and maybe that is not enough.
Mr. SAXTON. Well, let me just explain our situation. Wayne, the gentleman from Maryland, and I both have to go the Commerce Subcommittee, ironically enough, to testify on the NOAA appropriation for the next fiscal year. And so I would like to go vote and come back here. Unfortunately we are going to be unable to do that. And so we want to thank you very much for being with us today. And as the gentleman from Maryland suggested, we may be submitting some additional questions to you in writing. Thank you very much. And the hearing isI have to go vote.
Mr. ABERCROMBIE. We all have to go vote. I just wanted to congratulate Mr. Provo. I have wanted to congratulate you because you said Nation Water Level Observation Network tide tables and water current data and the availability of proven effective Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System, PORTS, all in one breath.
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Mr. SAXTON. The hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 4:00 p.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned; and the following was submitted for the record:]
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