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Recent developments in instrumentation, telecommunication, and computer technologies, combined with advanced numerical modeling and forecasting techniques, now provide a capability for disseminating accurate forecasts of oceanographic parameters to a growing maritime user community. Real-time measurements can: (1) provide immediate oceanographic information to the user; (2) form the basis for more accurate forecasts; and (3) drive numerical hydrodynamic models to provide even broader marine information services. For the commercial shipping industry, real-time model systems represent an important step beyond reliance on classical tide predictions; making maximum use of available channel depths leads to safer and more economical commerce. Real-time/ forecast circulation will make navigation safer at key locations, and will increase the success of search and rescue operations and the clean-up of oil spills and other hazardous materials. Real-time dynamical model forecasting itself represents an important interpretative physical tool which can increase our understanding of the geophysical phenomena that affect the maritime community everyday. Uses for sophisticated real-time model systems, like uses for satellite imagery, will continue to develop.