The International Foundation for Aids to Navigation (IFAN) has announced an investment of approximately $1.2m in navigation safety in the Middle East Gulf, to recapitalise the Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) sites it operates in the region and to construct a new workboat for maintenance of Aids to Navigation (AtoNs).
Implemented through its Gulf arm, the Middle East Navigation Aids Service (MENAS), the investment programme will see four DGPS sites upgraded, starting with Ras Al Khaymah to provide redundancy in case any site fails, or has to be shut down for maintenance.
The Ras Al Khaymah DGPS site will be relocated 5km away from the previous location, and only a few metres away from shore. It will have a range of more than 250 Nm covering the entire southern part of the Arabian Gulf and part of Gulf of Oman.
The DGPS capability will boost positioning accuracy to less than 1 metre, compared to the 10+ metres offered by traditional GPS systems.
Dual units at each site will ensure continuous coverage, even in the case of one unit malfunctioning, and they can be remotely controlled. Meantime between failure of the system is greater than 50,000 hours with availability of 99.95% over two years, in compliance with IALA requirements.
The new maintenance vessel, which is being built in the United Arab Emirates, should be operational by the beginning of October and will have a range of more than 40 Nm, enabling it to reach offshore waters in the Gulf.
Operated through MENAS, the workboat will have a shallow draft allowing it to access inshore areas to maintain light beacons. It will be fully equipped with radar to check the Racons signal, AIS receiver to monitor AtoNs, as well as other standard navigation aids such as DGPS receivers.
“Investment in the DGPS sites is crucially important if we are to upgrade ageing equipment,” said Peter Stanley, CEO of IFAN.
“And the enhanced capabilities of the new workboat will strengthen our maintenance of AtoNs in the region. It is part of our overall strategy of renewing our equipment and systems in the region to ensure continued safe navigational aids for ships using this important trade lane.”