Who can benefit and how
Progressively, more and information from and on ships is being centralised in the SafeSeaNet system. This means that, now and in the future, a growing number of different types of users are being given the opportunity to access the information they need from a single source, instead of using many different sources. This means that their work is made easier, and that they can operate more efficiently. At the moment, the majority of the people who can benefit most by using the system work in the following areas:
Port state control
Under the New Inspection Regime for Port State Control, those involved in inspecting ships need to look at specific vessels when they enter their ports. SafeSeaNet has now been improved in order to provide 72 hour and 24 hour early warning information on specific ship's arrival, as well as the actual time of arrival and departure. This is progressively enabling port state control officers to improve their planning.
Pollution preparedness and response
By combining information on ship positions obtained in Automatic Identification System (AIS) signals via SafeSeaNet with pollution images generated by the CleanSeaNet system (using Synthetic Aperture Radar - SAR), polluters are being identified and convicted. This is done by overlaying one image on top of the other so that the track of the polluting ship matches the track of the pollution at the time the offence was committed. This evidence is then taken to court in order to ensure that polluters are properly dealt with.
There are several types of notifications in SafeSeaNet that can be of use to those responding to emergencies, and to incidents in general (e.g. Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres and Maritime Assistance Services). Incident reports notify them that there is an emergency; AIS notifications provide near-real-time updates on the position of involved ships; hazardous goods notifications provide the detailed information on the quantity and location of any dangerous cargo on board (vital in assessing the pollution risk); the POB information provides the number of persons on board; port notifications have information on the departure and destination ports within the voyage; and; waste notifications provide additional information on pollutants being carried on board. When taken together, this information can be very valuable to those involved.
Those involved in the administration and control of ports need advance notice of the estimated and actual arrival times of ships, and it is also useful for them to have near-real-time knowledge of their positions whenever required. This enables them to have greater control over such things as: efficient and safe use of anchorages; management of ship queues; traffic control for entry, manoeuvring, berthing and departure; cargo/passenger planning, loading and unloading, and; handling of dangerous goods. Near-real-time positioning and arrival, departure, dangerous goods and waste information is made available through SafeSeaNet, and while ports already have much of this from other sources, the information in SafeSeaNet can be useful to check the near-real-time positions of ships and details of hazardous cargo, waste and cargo residues carried on board.
Staff involved in monitoring the coastlines of Member States, such as those in coastal and port VTSs (Vessel Traffic Services) have access to the full suite of information in SafeSeaNet in order to carry out their work. For example, they can see exactly where ships are (plus all their associated information) on the map long before they enter their waters. They know: where they came from; where they are going; their tracks/routes; their estimated/actual times of arrival and departure; which ones have problems; which ones need assistance; what dangerous cargo they are carrying; whether they need to be inspected and in what way(s) and; many other things. Thus having access to SafeSeaNet, through which ships and shipping interests must report, makes the jobs of those involved in coastal monitoring easier and more effective.
Risk analysis and control
SafeSeaNet provides those entrusted with ensuring that shipping operates safely in and around EU waters with improved information for managing risk. It enables such users (not only MRCS and VTSs) to see where all ships are at all times in near-real-time. Also, the positions of different types of accidents/incidents involving different types of ships throughout EU waters can be viewed and assessed, and this can be used as a key input to safety-related initiatives. In addition, high risk ships (e.g. carrying hazardous goods, notifying that they have a problem/emergency, banned from EU ports and single hulled tankers) can be selected and monitored individually or collectively. These are a few examples of how the system can be used for both strategic and detailed input to risk-related analysis and control.
As SafeSeaNet contains vast quantities of information on all ships in and around EU Member States' waters (including their journeys and what they are carrying), the EU has, for the first time, the ability to generate meaningful statistics on shipping, and to analyse them in different ways. For example, statistics can be produced relating to: numbers of ships; different ship types; numbers of journeys; numbers of accidents and types and; mixes of each of these. Such statistical analyses can be useful for many different purposes, such as input to maritime policy and legislation, input to safety-related decision making at all levels and many other such initiatives.
Customs control (Blue Belt pilot project at present)
Customs officers need different types of information on ships and cargoes that they wish to inspect. Should the Blue Belt project go ahead, SafeSeaNet would provide information on the current and previous voyages of specified ships, including expected or actual arrival and departure times, previous and next ports of call and other such information. Thus, customs officers would have significantly improved information on selected ships' voyages as a result of using existing customs tools together with SafeSeaNet, and shipping interests would benefit from faster processing of goods through ports. SafeSeaNet also provides information on unexpected vessel behaviour, such as deviation from route, speed variations, unexpected stops, at-sea encounters, etc. Customs authorities have a keen interest in such behaviour, as it can provide an indication that irregular and/or illegal activity might have taken place, and that a ship should be watched more closely.
Waste control (from June 2015)
Waste notifications sent by ships to port/coastal authorities identify the types and quantities of waste and cargo residues that they are carrying, and this enables: more efficient waste disposal when ships are in port and; better management of pollutants, should they have accidents. It also provides useful information on pollutants that could potentially be illegally discharged, and thus acts as an additional pollution deterrent.
Security monitoring (from June 2015)
The security of European Community shipping, and of citizens using it, and of the environment, in the face of threats of intentional unlawful acts such as acts of terrorism, acts of piracy or similar, should be ensured at all times. In connection with the transport of goods containing especially dangerous substances, such as chemical and radioactive substances, the potential consequences of the threats posed by intentional unlawful acts for citizens and the environment are very serious. In order to improve security, prior to arriving at Member States' ports, ships provide advance notifications to SafeSeaNet with information concerning: their international ship security certificates; the levels of safety at which they operate and have previously operated, and; any other