Ship operators who deliberately switch off their identification and tracking electronics could face fines and sanctions
This was the message from the Panamanian Registry to deter vessel owners from switching off critical bridge communicators to potentially hide criminal activity.
The Panamanian Registry said it would take action against ship operators that deliberately deactivate the long range identification and tracking equipment (LRIT) or the automatic identification system (AIS) on vessels.
If this is proven on ships under the Panamanian flag or ships in Panama waters, the General Directorate of Merchant Marine will impose sanctions. This would cover deactivating, tampering or altering the operation of AIS and LRIT equipment.
Its sanctions could include fines up to US$10,000 and/or the deregistration or deflagging of the vessel from Panama’s merchant marine fleet. The General Directorate of Merchant Marine monitors all the Panama merchant marine fleet 24/7.
If AIS and LRIT are not reporting due to deactivation, or technical issues, an automatic alert is sent to Panama’s Navigation and Maritime Safety Department’s fleet control and monitoring section which will then initiate an internal investigation.
“If there is no technical support that justifies the missing report, it may culminate with sanctions that will be deemed appropriate,” Panamanian Registry said in a Merchant Marine Notice. “In some cases, where the vessel is found having this conduct on regular bases, it could be deflagged or deleted from the registry.”
When there is a reporting issue with AIS and LRIT, an alert is delivered to the vessel automatically. The General Directorate of Merchant Marine will state it has detected that either the LRIT or AIS System of the vessel is not reporting and request a reason for this issue and state an internal investigation will be initiated against the vessel. This would be based on Panama’s ruling Resolution 106-048DGMM.
It is mandatory that LRIT and AIS equipment continues functioning permanently and adequately, “avoiding by all possible means that they stop transmitting information about the identity and position of the vessel”.
Ship operators should approach LRIT provider Pole Star Space Applications for LRIT conformance tests.
The LRIT provider will contact ship operators after Panama’s General Directorate of Merchant Marine registry department notifies them about the new vessel being registered under the Panamanian flag.
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