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Navigational control of Tokyo Bay to be consolidated in Yokohama

  • November 27, 2017
  • , Kanagawa Shimbun , p. 1
  • JMH Translation

On Jan. 31 next year, the Japan Coast Guard (JCG) will centralize navigational control of Tokyo Bay in Yokohama by consolidating the five agencies in charge of controling navigation in the bay. The agencies will be integrated and operated from the building that houses the JCG’s 3rd Regional Coast Guard Headquarters. Immediately after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, Tokyo Bay was congested with ships trying to leave the bay and those trying to enter it, and this increased the risk of maritime accidents. Drawing on the lessons learned and with an eye to being prepared for other large-scale disasters, the JCG will centralize navigational control of Tokyo Bay, including ascertaining the location of all ships in the bay and communicating with them.


In preparation for the centralization, the JCG relocated the four navigational control offices located at Tokyo, Yokohama, Kawasaki, and Chiba ports to the Yokohama headquarters starting in late October. The Tokyo Wan (Bay) Vessel Traffic Service Center located at Yokosuka’s Kannonzaki district, which is the entrance of the bay, will be relocated to Yokohama on Jan. 1, 2018. This will complete the consolidation of facilities, and the new navigational system will be in full operation one month later.


For the new center to monitor the movement of ships in the bay, high-performance radars will be installed at Tsurugizaki in Miura City [Kanagawa Prefecture] and the Central Breakwater in Tokyo Bay. The new navigation system will provide information needed for safe navigation and simplify port entry procedures, and this in turn will enhance the efficiency of maritime logistics.


Immediately after the Great East Japan Earthquake, vessels trying to leave Tokyo Bay for safer waters offshore and those moored offshore because they were unable to enter the port all concentrated in the narrow opening of the bay, and this interfered with international VHF marine radio communication.


In light of this, the JCG decided to centralize navigational control, which was conducted separately at each port at that time. The new center has the authority to restrict bay entry and to order vessels to move at time of disaster. Under the new system, the JCG also designated waters off Kisarazu Port in Chiba Prefecture for the preferential evacuation of large vessels. This is aimed at preventing accidents in the bay.


Every day about 500 vessels ply the Uraga Channel, the entry point to Tokyo Bay which is one of the busiest ports in the world. Although the number of vessels is on a downward trend, the vessels tend to be larger and more vessels are transporting hazardous materials. “An accident involving a large vessel could cause devastating damage,” said a JCG traffic control department official. “We aim to ensure safer and more efficient sea traffic by centralizing maritime traffic control.”

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