System to safeguard ships from terrorism
China's first universal automatic identification system should be operating by July,identifying ocean-going ships on the Yangtze River and protecting them from potential terrorism.
Officials with the Shanghai Maritime Safety Administration say the new system is able to keep track of ships, their countries of origin, their size, and number of crew. "It can be used to prevent terrorism... we could identify precisely the target,'' said Liu Gongchen, executive deputy director of the Maritime Safety Administration of China.
He made his remarks while attending a three-day meeting of the 34th Council of the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities. It closes today.
Liu said in his interview with China Daily that the system, which is still being adjusted,is set up in accordance with the International Maritime Organization standards.
Another system will be built in Guangzhou to identify the ships sailing in he Pearl Delta.
Some 1,100 Chinese ocean-going vessels carrying cargo, containers and oil are required to be installed with tracking devices before July 1, Liu said.
All foreign ships which sail into China should already have the devices. Otherwise, they are not allowed to enter Chinese territorial seas.
According to a spokesman with the Shanghai Maritime Safety Administration, all of the country's 6,000 ocean-going ships are required to complete installation of tracking devices by July 1, 2005.
"We plan to build more than 100 tracking stations along the coastlines by 2008,'' Liu said.
By then, the country's maritime safety administration organizations will be able to identify all the ships along the coastlines with tracking devices, ranging from the Bohai Sea to Fujian and the Qiongzhou Straits.
"The State will give financial support to pushing forward the AIS project in order to keep ocean-going freighters safe on the way to China,'' he said.
Liu said the current council meeting is a "stimulus'' to China's efforts to further improve its navigation aids and lighthouses.
"We will develop a sophisticated digital navigation system by importing foreign high technologies and contribute to the world's maritime safety,'' he said.
As a host for 2006 conference, the first in China, Shanghai is advancing its navigation aids and lighthouse facilities to meet the requirements of becoming an international shipping centre.
Torsten Kruuse, secretary general of the organization, highly praised the city's preparations for the conference, saying "everything is absolutely perfect.''