Waterway Transportation Analysis

Xing Wu, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Xing Wu, Ph.D.

Sponsored by: Sabine-Neches Navigation District ($99,742) as Co-PI, and the Center for Advances in Port Management (CAPM) at Lamar University ($10,089) as PI. 

Since 2013, I started my research in waterway transportation with the focus on the Sabine-Neches Waterways (SNWW), which connect the Port of Beaumont, as well as the Ports of Port Arthur and Orange, with the Gulf of Mexico, and serve as one of the energy gateway in the U.S. From 2002-2006, the import of crude oil through SNWW comprises 12% of the U.S imports (USACE, 2010).


My research team analyzed the risk of vessel collisions and groundings in the SNWW with the help of some professional software, such as the grounding and collision analysis toolbox (GRACAT). By doing this, the impacts of the vessel traffic on the probabilities of collisions or groundings are studied, respectively.

Moreover, the high-risk zones of potential collisions or groundings are identified in the SNWW. Further, my team attempted to use the automatic identification system (AIS) data to analyze the risk of vessel collisions in the SNWW, since the AIS data provides the detailed navigation status of vessels. My research team investigated the frequency of vessel conflicts, as well as the waterway transportation features from a macro level (using aggregate AIS data).

We proposed a practical AIS-based method to evaluate the frequency of various types of vessel conflicts in the SNWW. This study identified a series of hot spots in the SNWW that experienced high frequencies of vessel conflicts between big vessels, as well as those carrying hazardous materials. The following figures show the hot spots we found which have a high risk of vessel collisions in the SNWW based on the AIS data collected in March and June, 2012.


Note: The percentage refers to the frequency of vessel conflicts, i.e., a case when a vessel enters another’s domain. For example, 11% means that in a single month, 11% of the total number of vessel conflicts occurs at this spot.