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Tanzania Navy enhances capabilities to detect piracy

THE Tanzania Navy Command is in the process of installing an Automatic Identification System (AIS) on its radar systems to enhance the fight against illegal fishing and piracy in the country's Exclusive Economic Zones.

"We hope to have these gadgets installed alongside our coastline by next year and our experts had already acquired the new technology," Captain Atanas Kihula said yesterday.

Captain Kihula told the 'Daily News' during a short briefing of the ongoing 46th anniversary celebrations of the navy that because of the increased threat of piracy, there was need to upgrade the system as currently only 150 nautical miles of the sea are visible.

The Automatic Identification System is an automated tracking system used on ships and by Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) for identifying and locating vessels by electronically exchanging data with other nearby ships and VTS stations. AIS information supplements marine radar, which continues to be the primary method of collision avoidance for water transport.

Captain Kihula explained further that the navy among its future plans also aims at having bigger ships that will make it possible for patrols to be conducted further out at sea as well as build another radar station in Kilwa.

"The navy is also building a dry dock where the servicing of bigger boats and ships will be conducted. At the moment we have a sleepway but that only limits boats that are up to 200 tonnes, having bigger boats will necessitate a dry dock," he explained.

The navy among its future plans also intends to have technologies supporting maritime surveillance in form of planes and maritime information exchange.

He highlighted that despite the navy being able to build its own aluminum interception boats, the construction of a ferry in Kigoma and ably protecting ships involved in oil exploration activities, it was still being challenged by lack of ships as well as illegal fishing, piracy, drug smuggling and the ferrying of aliens.

Major Patson Sanga pointed out that the underlying reasons by upgrading and acquiring more sophisticated machinery was because there are new threats that have surfaced and their traditional duties as a navy have increased.

Major Peter Y. Peter said that they were encouraged by the flow of people who were coming to see their exhibitions and learn more about it but it was still not satisfactory.

"It clearly shows that interaction between the army and civilians is still bridged and there is more work needed to be done in creating a friendly atmosphere," he said.

The Tanzania Navy came into being in 1971 thanks to the assistance of China that supplied 13 ships and built the Navy Command in Kigamboni. The navy started with a unit with four platoons but over the years had grown to a command.

It has radar stations in Mtwara, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar and had the responsibility of looking after the 1424km coastline as well as the lakes of Tanganyika, Victoria and Nyasa. The navy is equipped, among other things, with gun boats and landing crafts which were being exhibited at the base in Kigamboni.


© Daily News Media Group

Source: http://www.dailynews.co.tz/home/?n=12774&cat=home

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