The Middle East Navigation Aids Service (MENAS) has recently invested $20,000 in upgrading its Aids to Navigation (AtoN) in the Middle East Gulf despite some ship owners still not paying navigational dues that are owed.
MENAS has previously warned of the need to upgrade or replace the navigational aids as they near the end of their life expectancy. The $20,000 investment will involve fitting four new Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) transponders and satellite-based monitoring system, enabling the AtoNs to continue delivering quality navigational safety levels in the Gulf region.
MENAS, which is part of the International Foundation for Aids to Navigation (IFAN) Group, provides a service of buoys fitted with automatic identification system (AIS) transponders to not only track the location of the buoy but to monitor passing traffic conditions and carry out risk assessments. The fear is that without the necessary upgrade, the AtoNs could stop working and would cease to be visible to ships and mariners in the area.
It is the Gulf region’s leading innovator in the development, fabrication, supply and maintenance of AtoNs. Operating from its main base in Bahrain and a support base in Abu Dhabi, MENAS owns and maintains an extensive network of 58 buoys, lighthouses and DGPS transmitters, mostly located in remote areas more than 12 nautical miles from the shore, and generally in hazardous areas such as narrow waterways leading to main ports.
Most of these AtoNs are classified as Category 1 (Vital), according to IALA principles. These require the stations to be operational and available to mariners for 99.8% of the time over three years, with a maximum outage of only 17.5hours per year.
It also provides essential information and advice such as the issuance of Notices to Mariners, advising on hazards to shipping and coordinating additions to navigation charts for the Gulf. Over 2,000 vessels rely upon MENAS equipment and services each month.
It is an associate member of the International Association of Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) which has agreed to partner MENAS in the provision of training port authority personnel to the regions starting in the 3Q of this year.
Peter Stanley, CEO of MENAS, said: “MENAS has to invest in Aids to Navigation to keep waterways safe for ships and seafarers. We must purchase an average of seven units every two years to replaced defected equipment. It’s vital that we invest to upgrade our sites for the safety of navigation through the Gulf.”