The Senegalese government has decided to enhance the safety of the shipping traffic off its shores using an integrated GMDSS (‘Global Maritime Distress and Safety System’) linked to a VTS System (‘Vessel Tracking Service’).

The GMDSS (‘Global Maritime Distress and Safety System’) is a worldwide maritime communications system which forms part of SOLAS (“Safety Of Life At Sea”) and makes use of DSC and satellite communications.

Vessel Traffic Service (often abbreviated to VTS) is used to coordinate shipping in traffic separation schemes to and from ports and on busy coastal stretches or rivers. It can be compared to air traffic control for aviation and also uses radar technology.

In view of the growing importance of shipping for the further development of Senegal, the Senegalese government has decide to safeguard the shipping traffic off its shores in order to avoid disasters such as that involving  the ‘Joola’, which caused more than 1800 victims on 26 September 2002.

The Senegalese government has decided to create a new department, the HASSMAR (“Haute Autorité chargée de la Coordination de la Sécurité Maritime et de la Protection de l’Environnement marine”) which is intended to safeguard the safety and control of its coastal zone from its new base, MRCC Dakar.

HASSMAR wishes to use the latest new reliable wireless communication systems for this in order to enable ships in difficulties to communicate with the MRCC so that the emergency services can intervene in time and in a coordinated way in accordance with the international standards and procedures stipulated by the IMO. In addition, sensors will be placed at various points along the Senegalese coast which will monitor the coastal traffic so that problems can be avoided in good time. Various data streams from radar, camera and AIS systems will be combined for this so that HASSMAR has a continuous and reliable picture of what is happening off its shores and can respond proactively to crisis situations.

System integrator SAIT has been selected to build and install these systems, and it will also train the HASSMAR personnel. The Belgian market leader in maritime wireless communications can draw on more than 30 years’ experience in this field and more than 55 references on various continents.

The MF/HF and Navtex transmitters which provide the communications, are being developed and manufactured by SAIT itself in Belgium to strict quality standards, so that they will be very reliable. SAIT has also opted to integrate other Belgian quality products into its design, including Automation for the power components and Barco for the Video Walls. SAIT will also call upon a local partner SATCOM for the civil engineering and maintenance activities.

The project will be completed in 2013 and represents more than € 2.5 million worth of business for the first phase. This reference is tremendously important for the further international growth of SAIT, which also operates in other markets such as defence and aviation with these MF/HF transmitters.