Summary: The United States marine transportation system is an essential driver of the U.S. economy. Every day, U.S. ports and waterways handle millions of tons of domestic and international cargo ranging from agricultural products to heating oil and automobiles. Every year the ships carrying the cargo are getting larger requiring deeper draft. One of the key factors is the clearance between the bottom of the ship and the seafloor – known as the under keel clearance – which is determined differently from port to port and is typically based on external factors such as the nature of the seafloor bathymetry, surface currents, water level, and weather. Improved accuracy in the management of underkeel clearance systems will enable a ship to take on more cargo safely. For example, for every extra foot of draft gained entering a port today’s larger cargo ships could load an additional 40,000 more barrels of crude oil. This equates to $2 Million of extra product that can be loaded for every foot of increased draft per transit. The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) is working to standardize the display of Underkeel Clearance Management Systems to show real time go/no-go areas in critical navigation situations. This proposed project is to develop an underkeel clearance management system utilizing draft International Standards (S-129).
Project Goals: To develop an underkeel clearance management system based on draft IHO standards that can be utilized by Portable Pilot Units and Electronic Chart Systems to provide enhanced decision support for areas that fall under critical under keel clearance management areas.