By Anesthesia Okolie
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has directed all passenger ships operating on Nigerian waters to ensure that they carry a fully functional Automated Identification System (AIS) on board in an efforts to optimum safety standards on Nigerian waters.
This directive is in line with IMO Safety of Lives at Sea (SOLAS) Convention of 1974 which requires mandatory carriage of AIS system onboard all vessels. Also affected by the NIMASA directive are all cargo ships of 500 Gross Tonnage (500GT) or more, which are not engaged in international voyage, and all vessels with Gross Tonnage(GT) of 300 or more, engaged in international Voyage.
Tracking Vessels on Nigerian watersÂ had been done with much difficulty because NIMASA had encountered AIS units that either do not transmit at all orÂ transmitÂ distorted dynamic data in terms ofÂ Position, Course and Speed of Vessels.
To ensure that all vesels on Nigerian waters comply, the Agency has announced that any vessel found not complying will be sanctioned accordingly beginning from 1st of October 2009.
According to C.N Nwokocha, head public relations, the AISâ€™s are designed with the capability to provide information from ship to other ships and to coastal authorities automatically. It will also ensure that NIMASA gets accurate voyage information relating to Navigation Status, Static Draft and destination of all Vessels on Nigerian waters.
TheÂ AIS is part of the Long_Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) system which provides for the global identification and tracking of ships.
The obligations of ships to transmit LRIT information and the rights and obligations of Contracting Governments and of Search and rescue services to receive LRIT information are established in Regulation V of the 1974 SOLAS Convention..
LRIT information is provided to Contracting Governments to the 1974 SOLAS Convention and Search and Rescue services entitled to receive the information, upon request, through a system of National, Regional, Cooperative and International LRIT Data Centres using the International LRIT Data Exchange.