December 2, 2021 — On October 30, the Maritime and Port Bureau (MPB) of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) officially inaugurated the Maritime Center and Offshore Wind Farm Channel Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) Center through a video conference between the Bureau’s first floor lobby and the signal station of the Port of Taichung. The MPB has integrated 19 information systems from 6 ministries and 8 departments to form the Maritime Center. The Offshore Wind Farm Channel VTS Center was established in response to the National Green Energy Policy development and for the improvement of vessel navigation safety. The event had the participation of distinguished guests, including MOTC Minister Wang Kwo-Tsai, Taiwan Transportation Safety Board Chairperson Young Hong-Tsu, National Rescue Command Center Chief Leng, Ocean Affairs Council Deputy Minister Chou Mei-Wu, Bureau of Energy Director-general Yu Cheng-Wei, National Taiwan Ocean University President Hsu Tai-Wen, and Department of Navigation and Aviation, MOTC, Director-general Ho Shu-Ping, who bore witness to this important milestone in the promotion of vessel navigation safety management by the Bureau, opening a new era of smart navigation safety.

MOTC Minister Wang Kwo-Tsai pointed out in his speech that Taiwan’s maritime industry plays an important role in the world stage. Maritime industry development must be based on navigation safety. In addition, Taiwan is the hub of maritime transportation in East Asia. Every year, more than 100,000 vessels travel in the waters surrounding Taiwan. However, because of the Northeast Monsoon, typhoons, and the development of offshore wind farms, the navigational environment in Taiwanese waters is relatively complex. The establishment of the Maritime Center today is a major step toward “navigation safety” in Taiwanese waters. In addition to the inter-agency integration of maritime information, it also incorporates “smart applications.” This significantly improves its ability to monitor and warn vessels in Taiwanese waters as well as prevent disasters and improve our response efficiency. It further transitions from passive to active monitoring by proactively issuing warnings to ships with navigational risks, thus reducing the chance of maritime incidents. On the other hand, the Offshore Wind Farm Channel VTS Center, officially started operations in tandem today, was established by the MPB in response to the National Green Energy Policy development and for the improvement of vessel navigation safety. It can monitor the movement of vessels passing through the waters near the Changhua Wind Farm Channel in real-time and guide them to pass through in a safe and orderly manner, and it can report all kinds of abnormal events in real time. The establishment of the two centers effectively incorporates “sustainable green energy,” “smart applications,” and “navigation safety” to build a more secure and denser safety net for maritime transportation.

MPB Director-general, Yeh Hsieh-Lung, said that, under the assistance and supervision of the MOTC, the MPB has been actively coordinating with relevant ministries and agencies for the planning of a smart navigation safety-related system and the expansion of navigation safety information integration through system interfacing. At the moment, a total of 19 information systems from 6 ministries and 8 departments have been integrated. This has significantly enhanced the Maritime Center’s ability to monitor vessel movements and predict risks in Taiwanese waters. The system also effectively collects information on maritime disaster response and acts in a timely manner; in addition, it improves navigation safety information, management, and other related services through active efforts towards an intelligent technology system to build a safer navigation environment.

Director-general Yeh further explained that under the National Green Energy Policy for offshore wind power, the construction of various offshore wind farms is gradually being conducted. It is expected that the western waters of Taiwan will become busier in the future, especially in the Changhua Offshore Wind Farm waters, where nearly 30,000 vessels sail through every year. In order to ensure navigation safety in the surrounding waters of the offshore wind farm, the MPB has established the “Changhua Wind Farm Channel,” which was officially implemented on October 26. The “Offshore Wind Farm Channel VTS Center,” which started operations at the same time, is responsible for monitoring the movements of vessels in the channel, and reporting their navigation status and abnormal events in real-time. He also called on ocean carriers and fishermen to comply with the relevant regulations of the channel, so that we can achieve “sustainable green energy” and “navigation safety,” and to work together to promote the major policy of national offshore wind power development.

MOTC Minister Wang emphasized that transportation safety, be it land, sea, or air transportation, is one of the most important objectives of the MOTC. In addition to recognizing the efforts of the MPB to establish the two centers, and the cooperation and assistance of various ministries and agencies, he also hopes that the MPB will use the Maritime Center as a hub for Taiwan maritime traffic information. In the future, the Maritime Center can make good use of big data analysis and AI technology to strengthen maritime-decision support functions, and continue to expand cooperation and integration benefits with related units such as meteorological applications, medical resources, and rescue efforts. As for the Smart Navigation Security 2.0 project currently being planned, it can also continue to collect the latest international trends and emerging technologies, comprehensively consider future development needs, and refine the overall effectiveness of the smart navigation security system. We must build on a foundation of “safety” to achieve “industry” development.