NOAA 2002-R427
Contact: Glenda Tyson
NOAA News Releases 2002
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Ceremony at Port of Anchorage Administration Building Today

Alaska’s mariners can now get real-time ocean and weather navigational data by cell phone or Web so they can better avoid groundings and collisions in the Port of Anchorage. This navigation improvement results from a partnership effort by the port and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The Port of Anchorage is the ninth harbor in the nation to have this technology available.

Known as PORTS (Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System), it supports safe, cost-efficient navigation by providing accurate real-time oceanographic and meteorological data. The program is provided by NOAA’s National Ocean Service.

“We are extremely fortunate to have the Port of Anchorage as our PORTS partner,” said Michael Szabados, director of NOAA’s Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services. “The Port of Anchorage PORTS plays an important role in the safe and efficient navigation that allows this essential flow of commerce to the state.”

PORTS includes a centralized data acquisition and dissemination system that provides real-time water levels, currents and other oceanographic and meteorological data from bays and harbors to the maritime user community in a variety of user friendly formats. A permanent kiosk in the Port of Anchorage office will display data in graphic and text forms. NOAA and the Port of Anchorage will hold a kiosk dedication ceremony at 10 a.m. today at the Port of Anchorage Administration Building.

The Anchorage PORTS information can be accessed by telephone, toll-free at 1-866-AKPORTS and via the Internet at:

“The Port of Anchorage is a critical link to Alaska in the flow of goods from the lower forty-eight states. Eighty percent of Alaska’s population receives ninety percent of their consumer goods through the port,” said director of the Port of Anchorage, former Alaskan Governor Bill Sheffield. “We are proud to be partners in ensuring the safety of maritime commerce not only in Alaska but nationwide.”

“We make it so easy to use PORTS that a mariner can call in by cell phone for information that’s updated every 6 minutes on water levels, wind, water temperature and salinity, or the same data can be checked on the Web,” added Szabados. “Accurate real-time water level information allows U.S. port authorities and maritime shippers to make wise decisions regarding loading of tonnage based on available bottom clearance, maximizing loads and limiting passage times, all without compromising safety.”

Future enhancements could include real-time current observations from key locations, or additional meteorological sensors. On a preliminary basis, the water level station at Nikiski is included in the Port of Anchorage PORTS to assess its value to the system and support for other NOAA navigation-related activities.

NOAA includes the National Ocean Service (NOAA Ocean Service) and is dedicated to exploring, understanding, conserving and restoring the nation’s coasts and oceans. NOAA Ocean Service balances environmental protection with economic prosperity in fulfilling its mission of promoting safe navigation, supporting coastal communities, sustaining coastal habitats and mitigating coastal hazards. To learn more about NOAA Ocean Service, please visit