Congressman Oberstar can relax
Representative Oberstar of Minnesota can rest assured that his 'grave concern' about the RADAR study for Cape Wind will shortly be addressed.
The RADAR 'issue' is irrelevent once Automatic Identification System (AIS) is required on smaller vessels. The recent and long awaited proposed rule making by the USCG is going to require that ferry operators like SSA and Hy-Line equip their vessels with AIS transponders. Same goes for the commercial fishing fleet and other commercial vessels transiting the area.
AIS is going to entirely remove the ferry and commercial fishing vessel 'navigation safety issue,' which in my view, doesn't exist to begin with.
AIS is current technology whereas RADAR has been around since WWII. AIS provides a very accurate indication of a vessel's position. This technology is VHF radio based. Position and speed information is provided by GPS inputs. The data is transmitted every 2-30 seconds while vessels are underway, depending on the type of AIS transponder (Class-A or Class-B). It 'sees' around corners.
It will be a significant benefit to mariners by allowing them to identify the name, type, size, speed, destination, etc. of other vessels in the area.
Vessels not equipped with AIS can still greatly benefit from the technology. For example, the receive-only equipment can cost as little as a few hundred dollars which is well worth it especially for the peace of mind it will provide. An inexpensive chart plotter can then display other vessels in the area, making it a handy and powerful poor man's RADAR. (Put it on the list for your favorite mariner!)
Here's a full AIS Class-B system which costs a bit over $1000 and is available today.
Here's a link to some other AIS products I recommend.
Read Mr. Calouro's previous Op Eds on the same subject area;