The One Sea Association and ESA partner to support the uptake of autonomous shipping in the maritime sector

The One Sea Association and the European Space Agency (ESA) have signed a Memorandum of Intent (MoI) to support the uptake of autonomous shipping in the maritime sector, underpinned by space solutions.

One Sea and ESA have decided to establish a strategic collaboration to promote the development of new space-enabled services which will support the maritime sector’s transition towards autonomous shipping. Autonomous shipping offers new opportunities to deploy safe, commercially viable, and environmentally sustainable maritime operations.

Satellite communications and satellite navigation play a key role in the adoption of autonomous shipping technologies and operations. During offshore passages, ships are often further from land than satellites which can offer invaluable secure and resilient communication channels for monitoring, command, and control of autonomous ships. Furthermore, in ports and congested areas, high precision Position Navigation and Timing (PNT) provided by satellites is also critical for the safe operation of autonomous shipping.

This new partnership will combine One Sea’s unique expertise in the maritime sector and in autonomous shipping with ESA’s technical competence and mandate through the Business Applications and Space Solutions programme to support the development and demonstration of space solutions in addressing user needs.


UNODC improves Port Security in Rodrigues Island, Mauritius in the Indian Ocean

Rodrigues is an autonomous outer island of the Republic of Mauritius, located in the Indian Ocean between the African and Asian continents with an estimated population of 43,538 people.

In line with the United Nation’s Office on Drugs and Security (UNODC) Strategic Vision for Africa 2030, under investment area 3 ‘Protecting Africa’s Resources and Livelihoods’ UNODC conducted a 10 - day extensive training on Port Security with officials from Mauritius Port Security.

The training equipped participants with relevant skills and modern techniques to combat Maritime Crimes and improve port security. Overall, this will also contribute to attainment of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 14 on Life Below Water, targeting Sustainable Management and Protection of Marine and Coastal Ecosystems.

“It’s not a secret to anybody that transnational organized maritime crime poses a significant threat to the national security with implication on public safety and economic activities. Now all those crimes are increasingly committed using more sophisticated means whereby offenders are constantly exploring all means to improve their crime. We are in the urgency to get ourselves prepared to face the challenges. This training comes at the right moment” says Raphael Jean Maxcy, Police Sergeant and Assistant Officer in Charge of National Coast Guard, Rodrigues.

Leung Kei, Administrative officer at Port Associated Portage Operations, Lighterage and Cargo Services (PAPOL & C.S) quips, “The training will help me a lot in my daily work mainly in port security. It has opened our eyes so that in the future we know how to deal with all security matters at the port. Although we do not have big cases of insecurity, at the depot where clients come to pick their delivery, we must be very vigilant now as drug trafficking is becoming popular in Rodrigues, little by little”.

Coastal Navigation: Authorized Purposes of Marine Structures Can Impact Corps' Maintenance and Repair

The movement of commerce involves the ability of the Corps to provide safe, reliable, efficient, and environmentally sustainable waterborne transportation systems. The agency is tasked with maintaining and repairing coastal navigation structures that are part of harbors and ports. The Corps' activities, including the type and scope of coastal navigation structures that the Corps may construct and maintain, are authorized by Congress. The authorization usually refers to the document or report recommending the project to Congress, which Congress then references in the legislation authorizing the project.

A number of the coastal navigation structures maintained by the Corps were built over a century ago and may no longer be sufficient to meet current conditions and changes in the climate. For example, increased wave and storm intensity in coastal areas threaten the integrity of jetties that shelter harbor basins and entrances from waves. This potentially jeopardizes lives and communities, disrupts commercial navigation traffic, and increases the frequency and cost of needed repairs.

A report accompanying the 2020 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill includes a provision for GAO to review how to increase the Corps' capacity to repair and maintain existing projects before they deteriorate to the point of failure. This report describes what factors, if any, affect the Corps' ability to consider impacts not directly related to navigation when determining which existing coastal navigation structures to maintain and repair.

To address this objective, GAO selected coastal navigation structures at four projects for use as illustrative examples based on input from Corps officials. GAO reviewed legislation and Corps documents to verify statements about the Corps' oversight of the structures, as appropriate. GAO interviewed officials from Corps headquarters, all eight divisions based in the United States, and at least one district from each division (16 districts total). GAO also interviewed nonfederal partners, such as officials from state and local government and organizations representing the navigation industry.

The authorized purpose of coastal navigation structures can impact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' (Corps) maintenance and repair decisions. According to Corps officials in headquarters, divisions, and selected districts, the authorizing language for coastal navigation structures in some instances (1) designates navigation as the structures' authorized purpose and (2) can restrict flexibility or adaptive management.

Specifically, the authorizing language directs the Corps to consider navigation benefits and impacts for coastal navigation structures when making repair decisions. Corps officials said that because there is not enough funding to cover all the maintenance and repair needs for these structures in a given year, the agency prioritizes the structures based on navigation-focused criteria—primarily the amount of commercial tonnage. Yet some structures provide economic value even though they may not have the highest commercial tonnage, according to Corps officials. These officials said that they cannot incorporate nonnavigation benefits of structures, such as protection of coastal areas, when making decisions, absent a change to the authorizing language or an additional authorization.

The authorizing language can also restrict the Corps' ability to adapt structures to current conditions. The language can include or reference structure specifications—specific length or height—that do not allow the Corps to make updates to the structures that could better address current or changing conditions, according to Corps officials. The officials told GAO that although the authorizing language for structures varies in terms of the levels of specificity, the language for some structures requires the Corps to use original design specifications that can date back decades when repairing damaged structures when the authorizing language is restrictive. The Corps views repairs that do not adhere to the original specifications as unauthorized. However, these specifications may not reflect current design standards or changes in the conditions affecting the structures since the structures were built. For example, the structures' designs may not be able to address more frequent severe storms and wave action and sea level rise. Flexibility in making decisions on how to maintain and repair coastal navigation structures could better position the Corps to address these changing conditions, according to Corps officials.

List V: Informing the global maritime community

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has released the latest edition of its key global maritime publication – List of Ship Stations and Maritime Mobile Service Identity Assignments. Well known among ship operators, the annual publication has helped keep seafarers safe and informed for nearly a century.

Commonly referred to as List V, this publication contains crucial contact information and other administrative and operational data on over 900,000 ship-borne radio stations around the world.

The publication and accompanying software enable users to retrieve operational data about any given ship – such as its name, call sign, Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI), and phone number, along with the vessel type, tonnage, number of passengers or crew, and onboard radiocommunication equipment.

This key maritime compendium lists port authorities and rescue coordination centers with their shore-side contact information. List V also includes identification codes for search and rescue aircraft and contact details for accounting authorities.

Rescue mission critical

If disaster strikes, List V is a vital tool that can help maritime authorities quickly recognize ships in distress and coordinate rescue operations.

Increasingly, the ITU publication also exposes vessels giving false distress alerts – a growing problem for the maritime community.

List V information that is fed into the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), which then sends alerts to search and rescue authorities, helps keep the maritime environment safer for ships, crews, and passengers everywhere.

List V history

The history of List V begins at the International Radiotelegraph Conference held in Washington, DC, in 1927. That conference introduced the first provisions related to maritime publications into the Radio Regulations – the treaty maintained by ITU to govern radio frequency assignments worldwide. Shortly after, ITU began publishing its List of Ship Stations and List of Callsigns.

ITU’s lists were substantially updated after the 2007 World Radiocommunication Conference to reflect evolving maritime technologies and enhanced safety protocols. The ship station and callsign lists were then consolidated into a single publication, the first edition of which was issued in March 2011.

Maritime Infrastructure: Public Ports Engage in an Extensive Range of Activities beyond Freight Movement

Coastal, Great Lakes, and inland ports are critical to the U.S. economy. Aside from moving freight, ports across the U.S. have a variety of non-freight activities—like cruise ship and ferry terminals, commercial fishing, recreation, and commercial and residential development. Ports engage in non-freight activities to diversify business, find new uses for underused facilities, and contribute to community development.

Federal grant programs we reviewed provided some support to ports for these activities, with the Department of Transportation providing most funding for freight and non-freight projects.

Public ports across the U.S. pursue an extensive range of activities unrelated to freight movement. Examples of such non-freight activities include cruise ship and ferry terminals, commercial fishing, recreation, and commercial and residential development. In a GAO survey of ports, 67 of the 80 respondents reported being involved in non-freight activities in the last 10 years, with most respondents having a mix of freight and non-freight activities. Port officials said they pursue non-freight activities to diversify lines of business, find new uses for underused facilities, and address unmet community development needs, among other reasons. Non-freight activities can also have economic impacts including creating jobs, according to port stakeholders and economic impact studies. For example, one study estimated that commercial fishing activity at the Port of Seattle accounted for 11,300 jobs and generated $1.4 billion in total business output in 2017. Ports most commonly reported funding their non-freight activities with port revenues (55 survey respondents) or state funds (53 survey respondents).

Federal grant programs GAO reviewed have provided some funding to ports for non-freight projects but have largely focused on freight. According to GAO's analysis of federal grant award data for fiscal years 2010 through 2020, agencies provided at least $141 million to ports for non-freight projects during this time, or about 8 percent of the almost $1.9 billion in total funding these programs awarded to ports, in fiscal year 2020 dollars. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) provided the majority of funding to ports for both freight and non-freight projects. DOT-funded non-freight projects include ferry-, cruise-, and fishing-related projects, among others. Stakeholders reported that ports, especially small ports, face challenges with federal grant programs. For example, stakeholders and federal officials said that many grant programs GAO reviewed are consistently oversubscribed and that smaller ports may lack the resources to develop a competitive application. Stakeholders GAO spoke with differed on the need for additional federal funding for non-freight activities.

The nation's coastal, Great Lakes, and inland ports have long been recognized as critical to the national and local economies. Ports can contribute not only by moving freight but also, for example, through activities related to tourism, transportation, or real estate. Nationwide port studies have typically focused on the impact of freight, and less attention has been paid to these non-freight activities.

House Report 116-452 included a provision for GAO to examine ports' non-freight activities. This GAO report describes (1) what is known about the nature of and funding for non-freight activities at public ports, and (2) the extent to which federal discretionary grant programs have provided funds to public ports for non-freight and freight projects, and stakeholders' views on this federal assistance.

To address the two objectives above, GAO conducted a non-generalizable survey of 80 ports and interviewed officials at 15 ports and 14 port industry stakeholders. GAO selected ports for variety based on their level of non-freight activity, freight traffic, and location, and whether they have applied for DOT funding. GAO also interviewed officials within DOT; the Departments of Commerce (Commerce), Defense, and Homeland Security; and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).