The Centre for Sea Watch and Response (CSWR) is responsible for ensuring safety of life and property at sea and the protection of the marine environment, which is the mandate of SAMSA as contained in the SAMSA Act.
In executing this responsibility the Centre has divided its operations into three areas; namely MRCC, Navigation and Intervention.
The MRCC is fully functional and operates 24/7 with the focus primarily of the safety of life at sea and complies with the requirements of the Department of Transport's (DoT) South African Search and Rescue (SASAR) Act. This entails interaction with the various government and non-government entities involved with maritime rescue at sea.
The Navigation section is being developed and capacitated to ensure the safety of navigation in South African waters through enhancing our maritime domain awareness (MDA) and regulation.
The Intervention section is also being developed and capacitated to respond to situations developing at sea. This is where interaction with vessels at sea and organisations ashore are executed; through radio communication, tasking of ETV, initiating the national contingency plan for specific situations, calling on defence and other resources to assist.
CSWR's Goals and Functions
“To comply with International Conventions SOLAS – Search and Rescue (SAR), maritime safety of navigation; maritime security and MARPOL - protection of the marine environment"
- Perform Search and Rescue functions and responsibilities
- Implement systems for surveillance of the maritime domain – vessels safety, vessel security, oil pollution prevention, detection and combating, other activities
- Maintain Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA)
- Manage Maritime Communication system for SAR requirements and radio communication with shipping
- Monitor coastal and offshore maritime activities
- Regulate Aids to Navigation (AtoN), both coastal and inland waterways, including Vessel Traffic Services (VTS)
- Participate regionally and internationally to execute the Centre's goals and functions
CSWR's Core Business Processes
Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre (MRCC)
- Search And Rescue functions of SOLAS Convention
- Distress Co-Ordination
- Registration of emergency distress beacons (EPIRBs, PLBs and ELTs )
- SAR Administration functions
- SAR – Regional Co-Ordination Centre (RCC) functions
Deployment of Emergency Towing Vessel
- Management of operational utilisation of ETV
- Environment Protection
- Pollution call-out for reported/detected oil pollution
- Liaise with SAMSA Principal Officers and Regional Managers
- Call-out DEA / DAFF personnel – combating oil pollution at sea
- Implement National Contingency Plan for Pollution by ships
- MARPOL Convention and Protocol requirements, includes Hazardous and Noxious Substances (HNS)
- Pre-Arrival Notifications – receipt and onward transmission as per Maritime Security regulations.
- Coastal and offshore structures monitoring
- Surveillance of shipping
- Co-operate with government departments on issues of Piracy and armed robbery against ships, Pollution, Stowaways, Drugs, and Security
- Maintain Maritime Domain Awareness – includes participation in the activities of the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA)
- Communication capability – new technology equipment
- Surveillance of vessel traffic and remote Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS)
- Regulate Aids to Navigation (AtoN) coastal and inland waterways [read more (Ref 3)], including Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) – to ensure compliance with international conventions and agreements.
- Ensure Vessel tracking - LRIT & satellite AIS, and other systems
Collaboration and archiving
- Accident & Incidents investigation assistance
- Co-operation with SAMSA Surveyors
- Reports & Records of incidents
- Storage and Archiving data
- Maritime Statistics
- Establish Regional Marine Pollution Co-ordination Centre (RCC) for Marine Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Western Indian Ocean
Following a bidding process, which formed part of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) funded Western Indian Ocean Marine Highway Development and Coastal and Marine Contamination Prevention (WIOMHCCP) Project deliverable, SAMSA's offer was accepted
The hosting of the RCC would play an important part to promote the Republic's maritime interests and to further the mandate of SAMSA. Hosting the RCC will help bolster the country's capability to combat pollution from oil and HNS products. It will also assist with the creation of jobs in both the technical and administrative sectors.
The Centre will be recognised by other similar centres around the world and thereby extend South Africa's maritime influence.
In order to formalise the hosting of the RCC, an international agreement, i.e. the Host Country Agreement, has to be signed by the DoT. In order for DoT to do so, Cabinet's approval is required to allow the DoT to sign the Host Country Agreement on behalf of South Africa.
- Hydrography – ensure annual civil hydrographic programme to address requirements
SAMSA should have an oversight role over hydrographic services in SA waters, but not necessarily the hydrographic service provider. An Annual Hydrographic Programme should be drawn up involving all stakeholders. This programme should, amongst others, address the needs of all sizes and types of vessels, commercial, leisure, fishing and other vessels, and be underpinned by an annual survey capacity and product production plan to satisfy all parties involved, would have to be incorporated in service provider's programmes to ensure availability of both vessels and staff.