As a trading nation, Malaysia recorded a trade value of over 1.7 trillion ringgit in 2020 alone.
This achievement would not have been possible without a sustainable transport sector, as 90% of total world trade is carried out by maritime transport, in particular the maritime and port transport sectors.
Aids to Navigation (AtoN) are the backbone of marine transportation to ensure the safety of the navigation system throughout the voyage.
AtoN can be classified into visual and electronic. Lighthouses, beacons and buoys are classified under visual, while Vessel Traffic Service System (VTS) and electronic navigation are classified under electronic.
The lighthouse is an early marker on land (landing) as a guide for ship navigation. Its structure consists of a special space for guards, power supply and other support facilities. Its location is strategically chosen and built to a height allowing the visible distance of the lights up to 23 nautical miles.
Beacons are generally constructed with a smaller structure in comparison to lighthouses and made from a concrete or steel structure depending on their designated location on land or water. It was built as a land terminal and also a safety guide in the navigation channel.
Buoys are a floating structure on the surface of the water supported by anchoring equipment. Among the functions of the buoys are the marking of the navigation channel and danger zones.
The Maritime Traffic Service System (VTS) is a communication system between the ship and the control center. The electronic navigation system provides digital transfer of navigation aid data between vessels and shore.
The responsibilities and obligations of a coastal state – as a member of the International Maritime Organization – are to provide AtoN services in accordance with the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), which has been ratified by Malaysia.
As a coastal state, Malaysia provides AtoN services to users of shipping canals in Malaysian waters. The Malaysian Ministry of the Navy ensures that the AToN involved is operating at an optimal level in accordance with its mission to establish a maritime transport system based on the development and monitoring of national and international standards.
The management of AtoN in Malaysia is the responsibility of the Ministry of the Navy, which involves the planning, development and maintenance of AtoN in national waters using funds from the Light Dues Board for Waters. from Peninsular Malaysia, the Sarawak Buoys and Lights Board for Sarawak Waters and the Federal Consolidated Sabah Waters Fund.
The fund comes from the collection of light duties imposed on ships calling in Malaysian waters and ports. The Department of the Navy is responsible for the maintenance of a total of 40 lighthouses, 415 beacons and 398 buoys.
Along with the current development of electronic technology, the Ministry of the Navy is also developing an electronic AtoN system called e-navigation.
According to the International Maritime Organization, electronic navigation is “the harmonized collection, integration, exchange, presentation and analysis of maritime information on board and ashore by electronic means in order to improve the navigation of peer-to-peer and related services for safety and security at sea and protection of the marine environment.
This system allows the Directorate of the Navy to play its role optimally in all situations, including in the event of a pandemic.
The electronic navigation system includes electronic equipment such as Automatic Identification System (AIS), Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS), VHF Data Exchange System (VDES) and ‘other high-tech equipment.
Among the data developed in e-navigation are Malaysia Vessel Database, Emergency Incident Response Database, AtoN Management, Marine Electronic Highway and others.
With this data, the Department of the Navy is able to expand its surveillance of maritime activities such as vessels anchored without authorization, encroachments on national waters and sand dredging activities.
The Marine Department Malaysia is an agency under the Ministry of Transport responsible for ensuring safe navigation in Malaysian waters.