Minister to launch Sea Watch and Response Centre

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pretoria - Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele will on Thursday launch the Centre for Sea Watch and Response in Cape Town as part of Transport Month.

The centre has the capacity to identify and track vessels up to 1000 miles from the country's coastline as well as South African-flagged vessels anywhere in the world, said the department on Tuesday.

It further said that the centre will have access to the Automatic Identification System (AIS) data of ships on the coast and in the areas around the major ports of South Africa.

"This means the vessel's every move can be tracked," said the department, adding that this data will be displayed on an electronic chart which is accessible via a secured website and only with an authorised username and password.

Once a vessel is identified, full details of the vessel can be accessed via a ship's database.

The centre will also be capacitated to communicate directly with all ships at sea within the areas of the department's responsibility in order to improve the quality of information exchanged and ensure direct contact with the vessel's Master.

This will ensure that the centre's response time to maritime incidents is improved as any situation can be fully appraised.

With the establishment of the centre, South Africa will comply with National Maritime Regulations and Agreements as well as International requirements with respect to maritime security and the protection of the marine environment.

African countries last week adopted the African Maritime Transport Charter at the Second African Union Conference of Ministers Responsible for Maritime Transport in Durban.

In this regard, the department said South Africa has also decided to further develop our SA National Data Centre to establish the Africa Cooperative Data Centre.