Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
The board of the International Foundation for Aids to Navigation (IFAN) has met in London and highlighted the issue of non-payment of navigational dues as critical to the ongoing modernisation and provision of aids to navigation in the Gulf region.
The Middle East Navigation Aids Service (MENAS, a subsidiary of IFAN) has been providing these services since 1911 as no state owns the aids to navigation in the joint waters of the Gulf. This service is funded exclusively by payment of navigation dues, and the sustainability of the existing service, on which the shipping industry depends, is totally dependent on receipt of these dues.
The board, which is made up of the senior executives of some of the world’s largest ship owners, confirmed that plans to recapitalise DGPS (Differential Global Positioning System) services in the Gulf will be funded from these navigational dues from ship owners.
Alan Marsh, newly elected Chairman of IFAN, said the Foundation and its sister organisation the MENAS, were committed to providing world class aids to navigation, including maritime safety broadcasts to seafarers in the region.
He stressed it was essential that users fully contributed to the running cost of the services provided by MENAS.
Peter Stanley, CEO of IFAN, commented: ‘MENAS will continue to provide services but sadly shipowners may not even know that these are provided by MENAS and some question the need to pay Nav Dues whilst transiting these highly important and congested waters.
‘Nav Dues are essential to ensure MENAS can continue to provide Aids to Navigation in the region while there is no alternative service provider or navigational system providing as accurate a service. All ships in the area share the benefit of these well-maintained nav aids.’
MENAS is currently the Gulf region’s leading innovator in the development, fabrication, supply and maintenance of aids to navigation. Operating from its main base in Bahrain and a support base in Abu Dhabi, MENAS owns and maintains an extensive network of buoys, lighthouses and DGPS transmitters.
It also provides essential information and advice such as the issue of Notices to Mariners, advising on hazards to shipping and co-ordinating additions to navigation charts for the Gulf.
Each month over 2,000 vessels rely upon MENAS equipment and services.
MENAS is an associate member of the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) which has agreed to partner MENAS in the provision of training port authority personnel to the regions starting in the Third Quarter of this year.
For over 100 years MENAS has played a major role in the safety of shipping in the Gulf and in the development of Aids to Navigation (AtoN) infrastructure throughout the Gulf States. Formerly named the Persian Gulf Lighting Service, it was established to be the responsible authority for aids to navigation in the region.
Aids to Navigation (AtoN)
MENAS owns and maintains an extensive network of navigation beacons, buoys and lighthouses across the Gulf and its approaches. It also provides maintenance services and quality management practices for AtoNs considered essential for international shipping and owned by governmental and port authorities throughout the Gulf.
DGPS and AIS
Since 1997 MENAS established and continues to operate a free-to-air differential global positioning system (DGPS) for the region.
An upgraded service as well as complimentary terrestrial-based services are being developed, the latter still dependent on international protocols being developed and agreed.
The company has deployed Automatic Identification System (AIS) equipment across its equipment network to both enhance the service to mariners and improve performance monitoring of AtoNs: The MENAS Operations Centre in Bahrain records status, performance and reliability of AtoNs using the AIS system and satellite-based Vega Web monitoring.
MENAS is the Acting Sub-Area Co-ordinator for NAVAREA IX (the Arabian Gulf and its Approaches) co-ordinating a NAVTEX service within the framework of the WWNWS system established jointly by the IHO and IMO. NAVTEX is an international automated direct-printing service for promulgation of navigational and meteorological warnings and urgent information to ships. The system fulfils an integral role in the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) developed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
Notices to Mariners
Notices to Mariners provide essential, up to date information and advice to mariners navigating within the Gulf. Subjects include (but are not limited to) notification of works and events, which may impact on navigation of a permanent or semi-permanent nature. Each Notice specifies the original source of the information and refers to the British Admiralty Chart(s) affected by the Notice. MENAS also issues a monthly Summary of its Notices to Mariners, which ensures dissemination of information to all major hydrographic offices worldwide.
In the current context, marked by the effects of the Covid 19 pandemic, terminals are showing a considerable drop in overall port volumes. This is associated with a decline in economic activity, and with a large number of blank sailings due to shipping lines’ attempts to align capacity with existing demand.
However, the paradox is that despite the fact that calls and volume arriving at the Port of Barcelona's BEST terminal have decreased, moves per call have significantly increased. This was reported from the port on 29 June.
During week 23 (1-7 June), BEST terminal welcomed the largest vessel to call at the Port of Barcelona, MSC Sixin, with a capacity of almost 24,000 TEU.
Subsequently, similar ships from the 2M alliance (Maersk + MSC) have been arriving on a recurring basis on passage between the Far East and Europe, grouping together all the moves that a few weeks ago were made between different services of the same alliance and which were cancelled due to the exceptional situation currently experienced.
During May and June, BEST terminal saw how the number of moves per call had broken all existing records in the Port of Barcelona – starting with almost 8,000 moves in week 22, all move records broken to reach almost 8,500 moves in week 24.
This change in demand, with large cargo concentration peaks on large deep sea vessels and a smaller number of calls, directly impacts on the way terminals must approach the services they offer.
It was found that the way to put forward a valuable proposal to shipping lines with these types of calls, is to offer productivity per call that exceeds by far the average efficiency in container terminals. With this in mind, it is important to highlight the relevance of the important investments made by BEST, both in the number of cranes capable of operating these types of ship, and in the terminal operating system (TOS) at all levels.
Classification Society ClassNK announced from Tokyo on 2 July that it had released its annual report on Port State Control.
This document aims to assist ship operators and management companies in maintaining compliant operations by providing information about ships detained by PSC as well as deficiencies that were found on board from many port states in 2019.
In line with the International Safety Management (ISM) Code, PSC inspections ensure that vessels departing the port meet international standards and have proved to be highly effective in eliminating substandard ships that are in operation. They oversee not only the hardware of a ship, but also the software by examining the maintenance and operation methods being used. In addition to various figures, status of implementation and recent developments in PSC worldwide are included.
This Annual Report on Port State Control (PSC) summarises deficiencies identified during PSC inspections carried out in various countries around the world.
Class NK has prepared it with the objective of building awareness with the present state of PSC and thereby improving future onboard maintenance and inspections, and as well as Safety Management System.