The aim of ACCSEAS was to identify issues, which obstruct maritime access to the North Sea Region, identify solutions, pilot and then demonstrate these successful solutions at regional level to develop a strategy for future e-Navigation provision. The entire process was supported by training and simulation.
ACCSEAS built on findings of previous and currently implemented related European projects, e.g. MARNIS, Tanker Safety Services (Finland), MONALISA (Baltic Sea), EfficienSea (Baltic Sea). The partnership in ACCSEAS included several partners from EfficienSea and MONALISA projects, which allowed for a smooth, efficient coordination between the projects and ensured that work was seamless without overlap, hence not duplicating funding.
European transport policy provides a shift to seaborne transport to avoid road bottlenecks to the movement of goods, services and people. This modal shift requires efficient and effective marine navigation services.
The North Sea Region, as a maritime hub, is at risk from increased shipping congestion and transport delays, safety issues and pollution/environmental risks that would inhibit the socio-economic development of the region. This is exacerbated by the proliferation of offshore installations (such as wind farms) for renewable energy. The trend is for larger bulk cargo and container carrying ships, operating side-by-side with fishing boats and leisure craft in the same congested waters. Without the innovative services of e-Navigation, North Sea berth-to-berth operations may become less efficient. There may be increased risk of collisions and groundings, adversely impacting accessibility of ports and the effectiveness of logistics in the region.
Consequences could be severe in terms of reduced economic sustainability, more environmental pollution incidents and the threat to safety-of-life. The IMO’s concept of e-Navigation, formally recognised by the European Union, provides a potential solution via harmonised, integrated and exchangeable electronic maritime information onboard and ashore.
The North Sea Region, as a crossroads of regional and global shipping, is uniquely positioned to benefit from an implementation of e-Navigation that can increase the efficient use of resources, provide better voyage planning and track-keeping and deliver genuine improvements in regional accessibility.
EU policy development, such as e-Maritime and the single European Transport Area, fits within this international framework (IMO, ITU, IHO, IALA) to improve maritime accessibility, efficiency and safety by the use of e-Navigation. This can be achieved by innovative Aids-to Navigation and Vessel Traffic Services with ship/shore and ship/ship communication of reliable navigation information providing situational awareness on a vessel’s position and intended routeing. ACCSEAS aimed to implement and demonstrate e-Navigation systems to alleviate North Sea Region navigation risks.