Aids to Navigation

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International Obligations

Antigua and Barbuda is a party to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). This places a firm obligation on the government of Antigua and Barbuda to define its maritime boundaries, protect its marine environment and provide appropriate Aids to Navigation (AtoN), Safety Information to Mariners and, if appropriate, Vessel Traffic Services.

ADOMS is the de facto Competent Authority for regulating AtoNs in Antigua and Barbuda. The National Hydrographic Office (NHO) was established within ADOMS to facilitate Antigua and Barbuda meeting its obligations under SOLAS Chapter V Regulation 5 – Navigational Warnings, Regulation 9 – Hydrographic Services, and Regulation 13 – Aids to Navigation. The NHO maintains a National Database on all the AtoNs.

Navigational Warnings

Antigua and Barbuda must take all steps necessary to ensure that, when intelligence of any danger is received from whatever reliable source, it shall be promptly brought to the knowledge of those concerned and communicated to other interested Governments.

Despite adequate precautions, any AtoN can fail. Should such a failure cause an accident, the only way for a Government to mitigate its legal liability is to prove that it has informed mariners of the failure as soon as it had the knowledge of it, by all official means.

Antigua and Barbuda is within NAVAREA IV. The Area Coordinator for NAVAREA IV is the United States of America. ADOMS provides the national WWNWS Coordinator responsible for the dissemination of Maritime Safety Information (MSI). 

Vessel Traffic Services

Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) contribute to safety of life at sea, safety and efficiency of navigation and protection of the marine environment, adjacent shore areas, work sites and offshore installations from possible adverse effects of maritime traffic.

Governments may establish VTS when, in their opinion, the volume of traffic or the degree of risk justifies such services. Contracting Governments planning and implementing VTS shall, wherever possible, follow the guidelines developed by the IMO.

Antigua and Barbuda is obligated to arrange for the establishment of vessel traffic services where the volume of traffic or the degree of risk justifies such services.

Establishment and Operation of Aids to Navigation

Antigua and Barbuda provides AtoN services with due regard to the relevant SOLAS Regulation, which states:

  1. Each Contracting Government undertakes to provide, as it deems practical and necessary, either individually or in co-operation with other Contracting Governments, such Aids to Navigation as the volume of traffic justifies and the degree of risk requires.
  2. In order to obtain the greatest possible uniformity in Aids to Navigation (AtoN), Contracting Governments undertake to take into account international recommendations and guidelines when establishing such AtoNs.
  3. Contracting Governments undertake to arrange for information relating to Aids to Navigation to be made available to all concerned. Changes in the transmissions of position-fixing systems which could adversely affect the performance of receivers fitted in ships, shall be avoided as far as possible and only be effected after timely and adequate notice has been promulgated.

Automatic Identification System (AIS)

The NHO operates a single AIS Base Station fitted at its Headquarters Building. This provides traffic information for vessels fitted with AIS transceivers operating to the north and west of Antigua. The AIS data is fed to a commercial AIS data operator and made available by them to users of that system.