Electronic buoys on stationMay 14, 2014
An overview of the Coast Guard's Nationwide Automatic Identification System. New virtual aids to navigation positions are broadcast in SF harbor using this system.
In a nationwide first, the Coast Guard has deployed 25 virtual aids to navigation in San Francisco Bay. These electronic aids to navigation (eATON) will be used "to augment existing physical aids and mark unique and potentially hazardous navigation features in the San Francisco Bay Area." Since they are virtual aids to nav only, you can't see them except on an electronic chart or AIS display. The locations of each of the vital buoys are broadcast over the Coast Guard's Nationwide Automatic Identification System (NAIS) for display on ships’ electronic charting systems and radars. According to the Coast Guard, "…not all vessels are equipped to display the new eATON, the Coast Guard is targeting early adopters of this new technology for testing and evaluation."
These eATON are set up to "mark reporting points in the offshore traffic separation scheme approaches to San Francisco: the 'SF' buoy which serves as the San Francisco bar pilot embarkation point, and Mile Rocks Light and Harding Rock buoy, which mark a critical turn point for ships in the Central Bay."
Five more eATONs are used to indicate the bridge towers on the western span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.
Makes one wonder if the Coast Guard used a "virtual buoy tender" to set the new marks. Maybe the captain had an Occulus Rift virtual reality headset and the deckhands set the buoys with game controllers?