The Triton


USCG tests virtual navigation aids


The U.S. Coast Guard is testing 25 electronic aids to navigation (eATON) to augment existing physical aids and mark unique and potentially hazardous navigation features in the San Francisco Bay Area. These “virtual” buoys are transmitted through the Nationwide Automatic Identification System (NAIS) for display on ships’ electronic charting systems and radars.


These eATON currently 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.


In addition, five eATON now mark the bridge towers on the western span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.While 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.


For additional information on the USCG’s eATON initiatives, please visit and send public feedback on the initiative in San Francisco Bay to


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