Maritime surveillance system launched with US assistance

A maritime surveillance system to monitor and identify vessels operating within Maldivian territorial waters has been established with the assistance of the US government.

The surveillance system will be used to collect data from seven Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) installed along major Maldives shipping channels and is a commercial system consisting of shore based receivers and transponders.

US Ambassador for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Michele J Sison, spoke at the handover ceremony for the Maritime Surveillance System in Male’ on Thursday.

“As the Maldives seeks to become a greater contributor to maritime security in the region, these systems will increase their capabilities and open up even further opportunities for cooperation with its international and regional partners,” Ambassador Sison said.

The system will greatly enhance Maldives’ maritime domain awareness and increase its contribution to regional maritime safety and security, the US Embassy said in a statement.

“The AIS system provides data used to identify ships and their positions and allows for a common operational picture so that operators may view the information from all of the sensor sites,” the Embassy added.

During the launch ceremony Thursday (January 31) Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim called the system a “major boost to national security” and “the beginning of the many tasks ahead,” reports Haveeru.

Nazim also discussed the importance of “maintaining close ties” with India and Sri Lanka for the protection of Maldivian territorial waters and that the system will benefit neighboring countries in the Indian Ocean, according to local media.

The surveillance system will improve situational awareness by enabling the identification of and communications with vessels operating inside territorial waters, according to Head of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) Communication Electronics Information Technology Service, Lieutenant Tholhath Hassan.

The seven strategic locations for the system include Villi-Male, Uligan Island in Haa Alif Atoll, Maafilaafushi Island in Kaafu Atoll, Kahdhoo Island in Laamu Atoll, Kaadehdhoo Island in Gaaf Alif Atoll, Gan Island in Seenu Atoll, as well as Fuvahmulah Island in Gnaviyani Atoll.