Ocean Shipping Lanes

In the same way we have national highways within countries so do ocean shipping lanes exist our at sea where shipping vessel are expected to follow when transporting cargo from place to place. Unlike national highways that are clearly marked ocean shipping lanes have no markers that distinguish them but longitude and latitude co-ordinates are used to mark the route or lanes that vessels use.

Ocean Shipping Lanes

Ocean Shipping Lanes

These lanes are marked for vessel usage for reasons as mentioned below.

Safety: With over 50,000 cargo’s vessel sailing international water shipping lanes have become a major safety precaution to maintain sailing vessels on the same course. This is done to avoid vessel from sailing haphazardly in the open sea which could result in collision resulting in loss of life, property and environmental degradation. Having clear co-ordinates that vessel must maintaining a certain direction greatly reduces the risk of head on collision. Rescue effort are also greatly improved when vessel maintain or follow ocean shipping lanes since there would most probable be another vessel closer to the distressed vessel that the coast guard and would be able to come to the rescue of the crew quicker than land based rescue craft.

Cost reduction: the IMO has closely mapped these routes to ensure the shortest and safest routes that vessels should follow to keep shipping costs at a minimal. There may be short routes that vessels could use but sea depth and other factors make the routes unsafe. For this reason the concerned authorities have clearly marked shipping lanes that must be followed by commercial shipping vessel. Safety always comes first in the shipping industry and cost reduction is considered only after the safety aspects of shipping lanes an assessed and approved.

Ocean shipping lanes are usually slit in two separating shipping traffic that is moving in one direction from vessels returning in the opposite, having these separate shipping lanes ensures safety from collision especially during the night or in bad weather. Shipping vessels are expected to stay within their lanes unless an emergency has occurred whereby they are allowed to cross over to the other lanes during rescue operations. Violating ocean shipping lanes protocol could result in hefty fines or cancellation of the captain’s licenses.

Unlike the many different traffic rules we have on land transport, ocean shipping lanes have fewer rules. Vessel seed limits, distance from shipping lane edge, distance between vessels among some others are some of the few rules that are expected to be followed by captains on these ocean shipping lanes.

Shipping lanes mapping began in the early 1900s as commercial vessels were on the increase and were taken over by the IMO and rules paced by law to improve the shipping industries safety, economical factor and equalization in the shipping industry. The ocean shipping lanes play a major part towards shipping safety in the 21st century and is expected to maintain this trend well in to the future since ocean shipping lanes are not expected to change as the existing ones get even more traffic as the century progresses.

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