And we take a break from crime and politics news to tell you about
a useful new acquisition by the Belize Port Authority. It’s a vessel which
will make for safer travel by ships in and out of Belize’s shipping lanes.
7News made a special trip up to Old Belize where the Port Authority had the
new tool on display.
Jacqueline Godwin Reporting,
You are looking at the MV Sea King. But this is no ordinary boat it is a hydro-graphic
vessel that has all the capabilities onboard to scan the sea floor and relay
on screen the information recorded as shown in this demonstration from where
the boat is presently anchored in the marina at old Belize.
“All that you are seeing is mud, this is all mud. But as we go out
and we find rocks and anything it will show on the screen.”
Previously all such activity was conducted in Belize by the Royal and the US
Navy. The last survey was conducted in 2000. Hydro-graphic surveying is critical
to safe navigation of vessels in and out of our territorial waters.
Major John Flowers, Deputy Post Commander – BPA
“Well there have always been reports of shallow depth, vessels touching
the bottom of the sea, they are grounding and buoys not in proper position.
We’ve had problems where vessels go into the reef because they have not
had enough information as to where the entrance is and so the initiative came
about because of all those issues.”
The Belize crew who are all members of the BPA have received training in hydrography.
The team will be led by Michael Jenkins, a category B hydrographer who has been
trained in maritime activity and disaster prevention. Theirs is a huge undertaking:
surveying the entire length of Belize’s coastline and waters.
Michael Jenkins, Lead Hydrographer – BPA
“The equipments on the vessel have a limit of 300 meters. So we can survey depths up to 300 meters. We have a side scan sonar which gives you a
pretty good view of the sea floor that can detect sunken vessels, obstructions,
that can cause wreck to a ship when navigating in the water.”
The vessel is scheduled to go into operation next week where it will be able
to be seen in the Belize harbour.
“Our first objective is to do our harbour and our approaches to the
main pier to make sure there are no obstructions in the water and that the cruise
ships and the cargo vessels coming in are safe as they enter into our waters.
We are signed onto SOLAS Convention which Safety of Life at Sea and under
this convention the country is obligated to do surveys on a regular basis to
provide accurate and updated information to the marine public. As a benefit
to the country, we have benefits like national security whereby we will chart
our waters and for example the Coast Guard will have that information so that
they can better take care of their own vessels and not hitting rocks and anything
like that. Economically it will also benefit the country because we will be
charting new areas and so the fishermen will have that information as to new
fishing grounds so they can have new areas to catch their product.”
The overall investment is a total of US$178,065.55. The vessel can
also be hired for private jobs as would be the case if a plane went down in
the sea and had to be located undersea.