As detailed on the official website of the United States Department of Transportation Maritime Administration, the Marine Transportation System (MTS) is a program that links many different land- and water-based facilities and travel channels throughout the country. Because marine cargo efficiency is crucial to trade and cargo, understanding the purpose of the MTS and the way that operators may use it could make for safer and less congested operations. 

According to this source, 99 percent of overseas trade volume is based on goods carried by ship, making proper port functions particularly valuable on a large-scale economic level. The network encompasses more than 3,700 marine terminals and 238 different locks, as well as thousands of miles of highway and rail. The MTS is overseen by a National Advisory Committee that includes transportation and labor stakeholders.

The Committee on the Marine Transportation System works to improve operations that involve the MTS. An action plan from 2008 posted on the Committee's website describes some of the difficulties facing the system due to legacy facilities that are deteriorating, posing structural problems.

"Current financing mechanisms are not providing sufficient revenue to keep pace with construction, replacement, expansion, and rehabilitation projects, as the majority of the commercially active inland waterway locks and dams have been in place more than 50 years," the document reads, referring to both the inland and intercoastal systems. That action plan recommended wide collaboration and standardized terminologies to help address these problems.

Establishing a secure and successful means of directing cargo vessels requires a plan of its own that reduces the amount of operational risk while ships are in motion. As part of a general focus on best practices, cargo businesses should use commercial watercraft insurance in anticipation of possible financial risks onset by damages.

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