Coast Guard uses electronic ATON to reopen Texas port early

Ships enter the Port of Corpus Christi, Aug. 31, 2017, after the Coast Guard reopened the port following Hurricane Harvey. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Ships enter the Port of Corpus Christi after the Coast Guard reopened the port following Hurricane Harvey. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Coast Guard established electronic Aids to Navigation to aid in the reopening of a critical Texas port following Hurricane Harvey.

Once channel and waterway assessments were completed, the Coast Guard created 13 eATON around Port Aransas, Texas, to temporarily mark waterways where buoys and beacons were lost or destroyed.

The eATON were broadcast over the Coast Guard’s Nationwide Automatic Identification System and can be used by any mariner with an AIS-equipped radar or electronic charting system. This ability to quickly and remotely mark the waterway contributed to the port opening several days ahead of schedule.

As a back up to the Nationwide AIS network, the Coast Guard also deployed a portable AIS system to Texas for Hurricane Harvey. This portable system provides the ability to broadcast eATON in areas where Nationwide AIS does not cover.

“As demonstrated during this hurricane response, eATON enables us to quickly mark a waterway on a temporary basis while our traditional physical aids to navigation are reconstituted following a natural disaster,” said Chief Warrant Officer Kristopher Franklin, a Ramsey, Illinois, native from the Coast Guard Navigation Technology and Risk Management Division who deployed to Texas for Hurricane Harvey.

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