River Safety

The Region’s Most Safe Freight Mode

Of the five freight modes, river is undeniably the safest option in the OKI region. Between 2010 and 2020, no freight-related incidences met the United States Coast Guard’s threshold as a significant marine event. In addition, there have been no navigation-related oil or chemical spills tied to a river freight navigation incident. (Source: United States Coast Guard (USCG). (2010-2020) Incident Investigation Reports. [Data sets].)

Definition of a Significant Marine Event: On April 18, 2018, Coast Guard regulation 46 C.F.R. 4.05-1(a)(7) increased the reportable marine casualty property damage from $25,000 to $75,000, and 46 C.F.R. 4.03-(2)(a)(3) increases the “serious marine incident” property damage threshold from $100,000 to $200,000. This change was to account for inflation since the prior amounts had not been updated since the 1980s. (Source: Federal Register. Marine Casualty Reporting Property Damage Thresholds. (2018))

A group of firefighters aim a hose at door where white smoke is coming out.

Coast Guard Damage Control Drill
Source: United States Coast Guard. (2008).

Barges are the safest freight mode, reporting no incidences meeting the US Coast Guard’s threshold as a significant marine event within the past decade.

Nationally Designed Critical Maritime Infrastructure

The United States Department of Homeland Security and United States Coast Guard maintain a list of Maritime Critical Infrastructure – Key Resources (MCI – KR). The Coast Guard conducts regular security trainings and simulation drills to be prepared for emergency situations and protect these maritime resources. Adopted in 2006, the Maritime Transportation Systems Security Plan provides strategic recommendations to holistically improve the security of maritime transportation systems.

  • Locks and Dams
  • Power generation plants
  • Highway, rail and pedestrian bridges
  • Pipeline crossings
  • Drinking water intakes
  • Strategic choke points
  • Marine Events (Boat races, fireworks shows, etc.)
  • Casino boats and passenger vessels
  • Stadiums

Automatic Identification System

The Automatic Identification System (AIS) is an automatic tracking system used for collision avoidance. AIS information supplements marine radar, which continues to be the primary method of collision avoidance for water transport. AIS is intended to assist a vessel’s watchstanding officers and allow maritime authorities to track and monitor vessel movements.

Typical data provided by AIS equipment includes vessel name, details, location, speed and heading on a map and in database format. AIS integrates a standardized VHF transceiver with a positioning system such as a global positioning system (GPS) receiver, with other electronic navigation sensors, such as a gyrocompass or rate of turn indicator. Vessels fitted with AIS transceivers can be tracked by AIS base stations.

In the Cincinnati Northern Kentucky region, there are several AIS receiver locations which collectively provide a seamless stream of river vessel information. OKI has data sharing agreements in place with organizations owning the AIS equipment. AIS is currently deployed as an OKI data managed and supported program and presented on the Central Ohio River Business Association’s website as a live map layer within the Central Ohio River Information System (CORIS) which allows the user to see the real time location of tug boats along the Ohio and Licking Rivers.

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