The U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are exploring ways to take advantage of recent technologies to enhance the delivery of information that will improve the level of safety and efficiency of transits on the Nation’s waterways. The three agencies have conducted listening sessions throughout the country to discuss and gather information on waterway users’ needs. 

Customer input from the listening sessions has been used by the U.S. Coast Guard Research and Development Center (RDC) to develop a plan for a one-year demonstration project to distribute electronic navigation (e-Nav) information to along a reach of the Lower Ohio River and adjacent reaches of the Mississippi River upstream and downstream from Cairo, Ill. The RDC will take advantage of enhancements to the Automatic Identification System (AIS) technology to distribute the information. A group of volunteer towboats will be configured to receive and display information transmitted over AIS. The RDC and USACE will transmit navigation information. The RDC and its contractor, Alion Science and Technology, will work with a group of operators during the demonstration to gain practical experience on distributing e-Nav information via AIS and other means and to learn what benefit system users have gained from the service. The RDC’s goal is to provide the agencies along the river with a path forward for this technology to augment and enhance existing navigation services.

On July 29, a meeting will be held at Western Kentucky Technical College to inform local operators along the Ohio River about the planned e-Nav demonstration, specifically:

  • Overview of the technologies to be used for the Demonstration
  • USCG-USACE-NOAA goals for the demonstration
  • The information we plan to distribute via AIS
  • Geographic scope and timetable for the demonstration
  • Describe how selected vessels would view the information

As part of this meeting, we want to begin to identify vessel pilots, towboat companies, and vessels that would participate in the demonstration. A representative from the RDC’s contractor, Alion, will discuss the planned demonstration, what navigation information will be transmitted, vessel installation, how the demonstration will occur from the pilot’s point of view, and how pilots’ feedback will be collected.

If you plan to attend, need more information, or are unable to attend and want to make any AIS recommendations, call Alivia Grate at 860-326-3460, or e-mail [email protected]

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