Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.
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10 Proceedings Summer 2015 www.uscg.mil/proceedings Occasionally, aids to navigation will become dis- crepant and not display the advertised signal to the mariner. When the Coast Guard is notifed of this, we generate a notice to mariners to alert waterway users and the primary unit responsible for servicing that aid of the discrepancy. The aid will be listed discrep- ant until the responsible unit can correct the problem. It is a shared responsibility for all mariners to report aids to navigation discrepancies to minimize the time that an aid is not watching properly. The Future Navigation has progressed rapidly during the last half-century, with signifcant growth occurring in the past decade. Since the days of manually corrected paper charts, sextants, echo sounders, radio naviga- tional aids, and radar, electronic charts and aids to navigation tools have grown in capability and usage. Now, more than ever before, the amount and accu- racy of navigational information available to the mariner is superior. However, newer technologies have not supplanted the time- tested visual aids to navigation constellation. Rather they enhance it, providing redundancy and, in some cases, an additional layer of information that would otherwise not be available to waterway users. The current system of buoys, beacons, and lights gives mariners confdence that what they are seeing in electronic depictions is timely and accu- rate. If an electronic aids to navigation (eATON) system were to fail, the physical aids would still provide mariners the infor- mation they need to proceed safely along their intended route. The key to a safe voyage is the harmonious variety of navigational information that gives mariners comfort in knowing where they are, what dangers are near, and the safest course to steer. Navigating in the vicinity of hazards like shoal water or submerged obstructions requires the prudent mariner to use all available means — visual and eATON — to determine the safest course. About the author: CDR Wheeler is the chief, Visual Aids to Navigation Division at Coast Guard headquarters. He graduated from quartermaster school in 1990, and OCS in 1994. His tours include CGCs Firebush and Sweetbrier, groups North Bend and Long Island Sound, Sectors Seattle, and Honolulu, and dis- trict 8 and 13 offces. Endnotes: 1. USCG Maritime Transportation System Management Performance Plan, Fiscal Years 2013-18, July 2012. navigation. The Coast Guard districts are the focal points for providing this valuable input, as we develop modifcations and enhancements to the aids to navigation system for par- ticular waterways. District offce points of contact are easily searchable online and newer Web-based feedback tools are being developed to simplify and enhance this interactive process. Exceptions to the Rule The Intracoastal Waterway, which extends from New Jersey along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts to Texas, has its own unique marking system. Mariners rely on dual-purpose aids to navigation to help fx their position as they transit up and down the waterway, and also as they go and return from seaward. Coast Guard inland river tenders maintain the aids to navigation along the heartland's western rivers, including the Mississippi and Missouri. There are approximately 15,000 foating aids to navigation in the western rivers system, marking waterways for 15 states. These aids are continuously relocated to mark "best water," as seasonal water level changes make navi- gating these waterways a constant challenge. U.S. Coast Guard photo.