An Aid to Navigation (sometimes called AtoN, Navigation Aid, or NavAid) is a device or structure external to a craft, designed to assist in determination of position, to define a safe course, or to warn of dangers or obstructions (Bowditch, 1995). Common examples of AtoN are buoys, beacons, lighthouses, racons and electronic navigation systems such as loran, GPS and DGPS. (The terms "Navigation Aid" and "NavAid" are properly used only for navigation equipment and techniques used aboard a vessel or aircraft. However, common usage often substitutes these terms for Aids to Navigation -- devices which are external to the vessel.)
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A Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) is defined by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Association of Maritime Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) as "a service implemented by a competent authority designed to improve safety and efficiency of vessel traffic and protect the environment. The service shall have the capability to interact with the traffic, and respond to traffic situations developing in the VTS area." Communications are the key element of every VTS. Most VTSs maintain positive surveillance of vessel traffic, usually by radar and AIS (Automatic Identification Systems). Many VTSs use closed circuit TV and some utilize radio direction finders.
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The U.S. Coast Guard defines waterway management as "the proactive stewardship of America's navigable waters to promote their safe, efficient and environmentally sound use among competing interests." Waterway management is accomplished with a variety of rules, policies and procedures. Typical examples of waterway management tools are the rules of the road, navigation regulations, traffic separation schemes and other routing measures and, of course, vessel traffic services.
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The issues in admiralty claims and litigation can be confusing, cumbersome and ultimately costly. They require the advice of a competent admiralty lawyer. Such attorneys utilize the expertise of maritime experts in various phases of a case, including use as expert witnesses in admiralty court. Captain Cattalini has had years of experience in providing professional assistance in developing, resolving, settling or litigating admiralty cases.
For legal information:
Bryant's Maritime Consulting, operated by a former colleage, Dennis L. Bryant, offers timely information on maritime developments including legislation, court decisions and agency actions. His blog and daily newsletter provide extensive information on legal and regulatory issues.
Click here for another web site that provides an excellent overview of maritime and admiralty law with many links for researching legal issues.
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Marine Information is a generic term referring to the publications and other information, usually governmental in origin, required for safe navigation. Common examples of marine information are Light Lists, Notices to Mariners, Nautical Charts, and Coast Pilots and Sailing Directions. Primary suppliers of marine information for U.S. waters are the Coast Survey of the National Ocean Service and various offices of the U.S. Coast Guard. Marine information for other waters is provided by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and by other national hydrographic authorities including the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office ("British Admiralty"). The Canadian Coast Guard publishes Notices to Mariners and Lists of Lights for Canadian waters. Worldwide standards for nautical charting are developed and promulgated by the International Hydrographic Organization.
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U.S. law generally prohibits construction or modification of bridges across navigable waters without prior authorization from the Coast Guard to ensure that the location and clearances meet the reasonable needs of navigation. The law also charges the Coast Guard with regulating the operation of movable span bridges (drawbridges).
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Most navigation regulations promulgated by the U.S. government are contained within Title 33 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Even more fundamental than these regulations issued by the U.S. Coast Guard, the Corps of Engineers and the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation are the Navigation Rules. The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972 (commonly called 72 COLREGS) is an international treaty ratified by the United States. The COLREGS apply on the high seas and on those U.S. waters outside of established navigational lines of demarcation. The Inland Rules, which apply inside these lines, were established by the Inland Navigational Rules Act of 1980, a Federal statute. Both sets of rules have been subsequently amended. In addition to these rules, vessels may be subject to laws and regulations promulgated by States and local authorities.
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