Maritime Safety

Safe and efficient Maritime operations are essential for maintaining the economic security of the country and region. For example, the Port of Boston contributes more than $2 billion to local, regional, and national economies. The U.S. Coast Guard is responsible for the Search and Rescue of coastal waters to minimize the loss of life, injury, and property damage. The USCG uses Search and Rescue Optimal Planning (SAROPS) to provide fast and simple search and rescue predictions. Individual port authorities are responsible for the safety of their maritime operations. The Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System (PORTS®) is a decision support tool aimed at improving "the safety and efficiency of maritime commerce and coastal resource management through the integration of real-time environmental observations, forecasts and other geospatial information". In 2008 Narragansett Bay had the only PORTS® in the Northeast.

Examples of successes that NERACOOS has helped to enable include:

  • Improving Search and Rescue – NERACOOS is working to improve the predictions of survivor location by including surface current information observed with High Frequency Radar (HFR) and modeled with NECOFS into the USGC SAROPS.

  • Improving safety and efficiency of maritime commerce – The NERACOOS buoys continue to provide life-saving information to recreational boaters and commercial fishermen. This is most clearly stated in the words of Roy Atkinson, a fisherman. "I am a lobster fisherman from South West Nova Scotia. ...I would like you to know that information you are providing us not only aids us in our work, it almost certainly has saved lives."

Future plans:

In early 2010, the Northeast will be the host for a national marine oil spill exercise that will take place in Portland, Maine. Over 1000 participants will converge on the Portland area for this 48 hour exercise. This exercise will be a coordination of efforts between NOAA, NWS, the US Coast Guard and Shell Oil utilizing data made available through the NERACOOS network (currents, oceanographic real-time data, models and forecasts). The drill will simulate a 2 million gallon oil spill caused by a fast movingNor'easter. Portland is the second largest oil port on the East Coast. Training begins in the Fall of 2009, and updates to this exercise will be available on the NERACOOS website.