A key hydrographic survey within the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore is now underway, as part of the Marine Electronic Highway (MEH) Demonstration Project, a regional project that IMO is executing for the Global Environment Facility (GEF)/World Bank. The purpose is to produce an updated electronic navigation chart of the area.
The specially-refitted survey vessel MV Arifah Adni sailed on 10 February 2010 from the Loyang Offshore Supply Base in Singapore to the survey site, with surveyors/crew from GEMS Survey Limited and the MEH Project Oversight Team, which includes six hydrographers from Indonesia (Dinas Hidro Oceanografic Office (DISHIDROS)), Malaysia (National Hydrographic Centre) and Singapore (Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore).
The surveyors will use shallow-water multi-beam and side-scan sonar technology to acquire accurate hydrographic survey data, including the location of any obstructions such as wrecks, covering an area of 621.28 square kilometres around the One Fathom Bank area, representing around 14 per cent of the total area of the TSS. The target area to be surveyed has a depth of less than 25 metres. Some parts of the target area have been resurveyed at various times between 1972 and 2005, but the survey will provide completely up-to-date data.
Calibration of survey instruments and the deployment of tide gauges are currently taking place. Altogether, the survey will take a total of 50 days, including two port calls in Port Klang, Malaysia.
The US$2.754 million contract for the hydrographic survey in the Straits was signed on 20 May 2009 between GEMS and IMO, following an international competitive tender process.
The MEH Project aims to establish a regional mechanism in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore for enhanced maritime safety and marine environment protection, in a co-operative arrangement with the three littoral States (Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore) as well as the Republic of Korea, the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners (INTERTANKO).
The demonstration project will link shore-based marine information and communication infrastructure with the corresponding navigational and communication facilities aboard transiting ships, while also being capable of incorporating marine environmental management systems. The MEH is being built on a network of electronic navigational charts using electronic chart display and information systems (ECDIS) and environmental management tools, all combining in an integrated platform covering the region that allows the maximum amount of information to be made available both to ships and shipmasters as well as to shore-based users, such as vessel traffic services.
The overall system - which will also include positioning systems and real-time navigational information like tide and current data, as well as providing meteorological and oceanographic information - is designed to assist in the overall traffic management of the Straits and provide the basis for sound marine environmental protection and management.
The funding for the hydrographic survey comes out of a US$6.86 million grant agreement signed in June 2006 between the GEF/World Bank and IMO.
MEH website: Link