Vessels at times incur mechanical failures or casualties that can lead to loss of life, property and environmental harm if not responded to promptly. The concept of offshore routing for the Pacific was first explored in a 1978 study conducted by DOT and later in 1999 by the Pacific States-British Columbia Oil Spill Task Force. These led to the establishment of recommended offshore routes for vessels incorporated as “standards of care” incorporated in the U.S. Coast Pilot. Monitoring of vessels operating offshore with AIS (Automatic Identification System) has revealed the routing measures are largely not being complied with. The PacMMS will substantially elevate adherence through active monitoring and communications. By transiting well offshore vessels and responders have more time to respond to a marine casualty before a vessel and crew are in extremis. Additionally, early detection of a casualty via active vessel monitoring (vessel not under command or not making way) aids the early dispatch of response resources or delivery of needed parts or technicians.
PacMMS is available to all vessels calling on Pacific coast ports but is focused on establishing and implementing safety, efficiency and environmental Standards of Care safety for all self-propelled commercial vessels with an overall length of 400’ or longer. As port activity increases operating protocols can mitigate port congestion and emissions. A marine casualty involving large vessels have a greater potential of incurring substantial safety and environmental harm and devastating financial impacts all of which can be averted. Unlike oil pollution prevention regulations that are limited to regulating vessels with oil on board, all vessels over 400’ whether powered by oil, batteries, LNG or other technologies present a risk of a marine casualty that participation in PacMMS can prevent or mitigate the negative impacts.
Anyone in the maritime trade as well as the public all benefit from PacMMS. Vessels are the primary benefactor as inefficiencies and risk of financial and safety harm is mitigated by enrollment in PacMMS. Ports benefit as they also will actively endorse and support measures that mitigate the adverse impacts of vessel’s calling on their facilities to conduct trade. Lastly the general public benefits as environmental impacts will be reduced and the cost and impacts of marine casualties can be prevented.
Proactive, voluntary risk mitigating measures undertaken by vessel operators can reduce the potential for the loss of a vessel due to a marine casualty and the associated loss of life, environmental harm and financial impacts. Proactive safety measures undertaken by the marine industry can also defuse the need for burdensome and costly regulations that may not be as effective in mitigating risk.
Vessels are more likely to comply with risk mitigating measures when they are closely monitored and notified when they are not adhering to “Standards of Care”. Similarly, vessel operators are at times hesitant to call for help due to unfamiliarity with resources available or due to being consumed with addressing the casualty. Monitoring of vessels can identify anomalies such as vessels adrift, steaming at a reduced speed, or broadcasting “Not Under Command” on a vessel’s AIS and initiate the process of making notifications and locating response resources in the event repairs cannot be affected and their assistance is needed.
Sea Traffic Management (STM) is a concept being adopted internationally that addresses maritime safety, efficiency and environmentally sound maritime operations offshore, beyond the maritime safety and emergency response network comprised of Vessel Traffic Services, tugs, pilots and aids to navigation provided in port areas. With the advent of new communications and vessel tracking technologies vessel safety management and efficiency of maritime operations is being extended offshore, from port to port. PacMMS is a low cost, but effective STM that also provides an enhanced response capability to assist vessels.
The 24/7 hour operations centers that support PacMMS identify and provide information on enhancing the efficiency of maritime operations and reduce the consequences of loss of propulsion or steering, fires and other casualties.
Pacific Maritime Management Services (PacMMS) is a non-profit organization that provides information and services to increase the safety and efficiency of vessel arrivals to North Pacific coastal ports and reduce environmental impacts.