The primary function of the Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center, under the authority of the Rivers & Harbors Act of 1922, is to collect, process, distribute, and archive vessel trip and cargo data. These statistics are used to analyze the feasibility of new projects and to set priorities for new investment, and for the operation, rehabilitation and maintenance of existing projects.
Domestic and foreign vessel trips and tonnages by commodity for ports and waterways are covered in the Waterborne Commerce of the U.S., Parts 1-5. Foreign waterborne commerce between the U.S. and foreign countries are summarized by U.S. port, foreign port, foreign country, commodity group, and tonnage. Data summaries include origin to destination information of foreign and domestic waterborne cargo movements by region and state, and also waterborne tonnage for principal ports and state and territories. Internal waterway tonnage indicators are updated monthly on the NDC website.
Under Federal law, vessel operating companies must report domestic waterborne commercial movements to the Corps. The types of vessels include: dry cargo ships and tankers, barges (loaded and empty), fishing vessels, towboats (with or without barges in tow), tugboats, crew boats and supply boats to offshore locations, and newly constructed vessels from the shipyards to the point of delivery. Vessels remaining idle during the monthly reporting period are also reported.
Movement data acquired by the Center is primarily for the use of the Corps and other government agencies; however, summary statistics, which do not disclose movements of individual companies, are also released to private companies and to the general public.
The Waterborne Commerce Statistics Center's standard publications, Waterborne Commerce of the United States, is issued in five parts (one to cover each coast and a national summary). Also available is The Public Domain Database which contains aggregated information of foreign and domestic waterborne cargo movements. Transportation Lines of the United States contains listings of domestic vessel operators, details their equipment and references their service areas. Most data are available in both hard copy and electronic form. Specialized data processing requests are considered on a case-by-case basis and are charged accordingly.