Officials from the Undersecretariat for Maritime Affairs, under which the Search and Rescue Coordination Center operates, said the Automatic Identification System (AIS), which collects statistical, dynamics and navigational information on vessels to increase maritime security, went into effect for vessels engaged in international transport in August 2007.
Now, all vessels, including yachts, small passenger boats, cargo vessels and fishing boats, will be required to carry the AIS equipment as of March. A total of 18,000 vessels are anticipated to be equipped with the system. The installation cost ranges between 600 and 1,000 euros.
According to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), all international transport vessels equal to or above 300 gross tonnage and all cargo vessels of at least 500 gross tonnage operating in only domestic ports as well as all passenger boats are required to carry the AIS Class-B equipment.
The AIS equipment allows monitoring of all the vessels passing through the Turkish search and rescue zone. Hence, coordination of all vessels equipped with AIS can be carried out in case of an accident or breakdown.
Moreover, the AIS holds the information on the vessel identity as well as information such as its length, width, tonnage, freight, departure and arrival port and anticipated arrival time.
A total of 27 antennas installed along Turkish coasts will gather such information on the vessels, transferring it to the Research and Rescue Coordination Center via satellite.
Undersecretary for Maritime Affairs Hasan Naiboğlu said a vessel named Dolphin-1, which sank near the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) due to a breakdown on Nov. 7, contacted the Search and Rescue Coordination Center. He noted that they sent the closest vessel to the Dolphin-1, determining its location with the AIS. The Panamanian-registered Rialto rescued seven crew members from the sunken vessel.
“The AIS will simplify the process of establishing the location of vessels sailing within the Turkish search and rescue zone and of sending help quickly in the event of a problem. Hence, rescue efforts will be more effective and safety at sea will be enhanced. This system will also help prevent smuggling and illegal trade.”