IFAN is forced into action as shipping in the Middle East is not paying its share of navigation dues
Shipowners need to pay navigation dues to ensure aids to navigation are maintained andmodernised to uphold ship safety. However, some shipowners are not paying their fair share of these operational costs, putting navigational safety at risk in congested waters where some of the world’s largest ships pass daily.
This has forced International Foundation for Aids to Navigation (IFAN) into action to engage with the shipping industry to ensure there are sufficient funds to modernise navigation aids.
IFAN chief executive Peter Stanley and newly elected IFAN chairman Alan Marsh have called on shipowners, operators and managers with shipping in the Middle East to pay their way.
IFAN is responsible for installing and maintaining aids to navigation in major shipping lanes. Its subsidiary Middle East Navigation Aids Service (MENAS) has provided these services in the region since 1911. More than 2,000 vessels rely upon MENAS equipment and services each month.
These services are funded exclusively via navigational dues payments. The sustainability of existing service, on which the shipping industry depends, is totally dependent on this revenue.
But not all shipowners trading in the area are paying their way, something which has forced MENAS to take action, says Mr Marsh. “A modernisation programme has to be rolled out to extend the life of the differential GPS system in the region,” he says.
“It is now more important than ever that shipowners ‘stand up to the plate’ and pay their way so these modernisations costs can be met.”
Middle East shipping needs these navigation aids because there is no alternative, such asspace-based augmented satellite communication, that other regions and countries are adopting. “There is no space-based augmented satellite system over the Middle East,” says Mr Marsh.
“Most of the differential GPS equipment is no longer manufactured so MENAS is securing spare parts from countries that are decommissioning their systems because they are turning to space-based augmented satellite communications instead,” he says.
IFAN and MENAS is committed to providing world-class navigational aids, including maritime safety broadcasts to seafarers, in the region. It is essential that users fully contribute to the running cost of the services provided by MENAS, says Mr Marsh.
“MENAS will continue to provide services, but sadly, shipowners may not even know these are provided by MENAS and some are questioning the need to pay navigation dues whiletransiting these highly important and congested waters,” says Mr Stanley.
“These navigation dues are essential to ensuring MENAS can continue to provide aids tonavigation in the region while there is no alternative service provider or navigational system delivering as accurate a service,” he says. “All ships in the area share the benefit of these well-maintained navigation aids.”
MENAS is currently the region’s leading innovator in developing, fabricating, supplying and maintaining aids to navigation. It operates from a main base in Bahrain and from a support base in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. MENAS owns and maintains an extensive network of buoys, lighthouses and differential GPS transmitters.
It also provides essential information and advice such as issuing notices to mariners, advising on hazards to shipping and co-ordinating additions to navigation charts for the Middle EastGulf.