The kites are computer controlled and fly at an altitude of 100 to 420 meters.

Many New Naval Technologies on Council's Agenda

SkySails, virtual navigation aids, and the National e-Navigation Strategy will be discussed during the May 4-5 meeting of the Navigation Safety Advisory Council.

Members of the U.S. Coast Guard's Navigation Safety Advisory Council (NAVSAC) will be discussing several new technologies when they meet May 4-5 in Arlington, Va., and their meeting will be open to the public. In fact the agenda is filled with reports on intriguing technologies, including virtual navigation aids, Sky Sails, and ECDIS -- the Electronic Chart Display and Information System.

The agenda includes an update for the council on the National e-Navigation Strategy that is being developed by the Coast Guard and other agencies. The strategy will create a framework for data exchange between and among ships and shore facilities. ECDIS is being phased in starting in 2012, and a series of presentations will explain the developments and difficulties encountered in deploying ECDIS, "including accuracy of charted positions, the range of vessels to be impacted, and training requirements for ECDIS," according to the published notice of the meeting. The council will discuss possibly deploying virtual navigation aids -- described as virtual aids to navigation as an alternative to physical lights, daybeacons, and buoys under certain circumstances -- in U.S. waters.

The council will continue its discussion of autonomous unmanned vessels' implications for the Inland Navigation Rules and to consider whether buffer zones should be established around offshore renewable energy installations, such as wind turbines, and how large those zones should be.

"The use of Sky Sails to augment propulsion on vessels is a real possibility. This task will address whether there should be restrictions on their use," the notice states. SkySails is the name of a company in Hamburg, Germany, that is testing towing kite propulsion systems for cargo vessels. Using the kites will reduce a ship's annual fuel costs by 10-35 percent, the company promises; the kites are computer controlled, are attached to a ship by a rope made with Dyneema® fiber, and fly at an altitude of 100 to 420 meters. Cargill recently agreed to install a large kite on one of its chartered vessels later this year.

"For some time, we have been searching for a project that can help drive environmental best practice within the shipping industry and see this as a meaningful first step," G.J. van den Akker, head of Cargill's ocean transportation business, said when the agreement was announced in February. "The shipping industry currently supports 90 percent of the world's international physical trade. In a world of finite resources, environmental stewardship makes good business sense. As one of the world's largest charterers of dry bulk freight, we take this commitment extremely seriously. In addition to lowering greenhouse gas emissions, the SkySails technology aims to significantly reduce fuel consumption and costs. We are very impressed with the technology and see its installation on one of our chartered ships as the first part of an ongoing, long-term partnership."

The NAVSAC meeting will be held at the Navy League Building, Coast Guard Recruiting Command, 5th floor conference room, 2300 Wilson Blvd., Suite 500, and pre-registration is required. To pre-register, contact Mike Sollosi, the NAVSAC Alternate Designated Federal Officer, at 202-372-1545 or [email protected] or Dennis Fahr at 202-372-1531 or [email protected]

To submit a comment on any of the agenda items, visit no later than April 25 and search for USCG-2011-0204.

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