MENAS – please pay “Nav dues” in Middle Eastern ports

Jun 25 2020

Middle East Navigation Aids Services (MENAS), which maintains buoys and DGPS in the Middle Eastern Gulf, would like to request that shipowners pay their invoices after Middle East port calls as the dues are needed to maintian the existing service and upgrade equipment.

Middle East Navigation Aids Services (MENAS), is a not for profit organisation which maintains buoys and DGPS in the Middle Eastern Gulf among other services, would like to request that shipowners pay their invoices which are issued to them after their Middle East port calls.


If the invoices are not paid, MENAS will be unable to keep maintaining the equipment, leading to safety issues and GPS inaccuracies, explains Peter Stanley, CEO of the parent charity International Foundation for Aids to Navigation (IFAN).



Having aids to navigation managed byan independent company, and not a government, is an unusual situation, but linked to the background to maritime shipping in the region, Mr Stanley explains.


It goes back to earlier in the 20th century, when UK and Indian governments were involved in keeping trade flowing in the region, and the coastal states did not yet exist. (For example, UAE, Bahrain and Qatar were founded in 1971).  UK and India took responsibility for providing buoys in the Gulf for safety of maritime transport.


After these coastal states were established, the UK and Indian governments thought they should take over responsibility for the navigation aids, but they have not so far. So MENAS was established as a charity with responsibility for maintaining the aids.


MENAS has continued trying to encourage these coastal states to take responsibility, but so far only Oman has agreed to do so, since 2000. MENAS provided initial technical support to Oman for establishing the aids around Oman territorial waters 20 years ago, and is still providing support through participation in a joint-venture.


Some coastal states are providing navigation aids within their territorial waters, as international law requires, but not beyond this into international waters.


So MENAS continues to hold responsibility for maintenance of them to this day.


The costs for maintaining the service is covered through an invoice for “Navigation Dues” which is presented to owners by ship agents when vessels visit Middle Eastern ports. It is free for vessels under 15,000 NT. Larger vessels pay $1.68 per 100 net  tonnes, so a 40,000 NT vessel is invoiced $660. The fees are capped at that level, so a VLCC is also invoiced $660.


But MENAS relies on ship opwners to recognise thier “moral obligation to pay for the services enjoyed as they transit the gulf” Mr Stanley says.


There are some “really good owners”, who understand they have used MENAS’ services, and pay the Nav dues along with their port dues, when the invoice is presented to them by the agent.


But some operators don’t – either because they perhaps they don’t understand who provides the service, or just make a choice not to pay, he says.


MENAS finances

MENAS’ parent organisation IFAN, a registerted UK Charity, has an income of around £10m year according to public fillings. IFAN supports projects furthering safety at sea through improved aids to navigations and education.


In the past, there was a time when MENAS had a bigger income than it needed, and so money was donated to bodies which promote safe navigation at sea, and the dues were reduced.


Today, funds are needed to renew the DGPS stations, which are coming to the end of their 20 year life. The funds are also needed to keep operations running at the current level, promoting safe navigation in the waters of the Gulf.


To supplement its income, MENAS provides some consulting work, including risk assessments on behalf of port authorities, and from October 2020 it will start providing training for Aids to Navigation technicians, accredited by IALA, targeting staff from Gulf port authorities.


MENAS owns a buoy tender vessel, built in 2004, which it used to keep the buoys refuelled with acetylene gas. But today, the buoys are solar powered, so this is not required. So the vessel has been chartered out on the spot market, and it is currently supporting North Sea projects, working  on subsea operations, pipelines and wind farms. This brings in some revenue.


The fact that MENAS is independent of any state body can also have some appeal, in this part of the world.



A DGPS (differential GPS transmitter) can be used to improve GPS positions from approx. 15m to 1-3 cm. It works like this.


GPS data is inaccurate by a few metres, but someone using a GPS receiver does not know exactly how inaccurate it is, and in which direction. This can be found out if you have a fixed receiver, whose location is known exactly, by comparing its position reading from GPS with its known position.


For example, it could calculate that GPS readings are inaccurate by 5m in a 270 degree bearing.


A DGPS station measures this differential and broadcasts it to ships by radio, so they can correct their GPS readings by this amount.


Some areas of the world have got positioning satellites which can be as accurate as DGPS, but not the Gulf. A discussion at an IALA conference in Edinburgh in January 2020 concluded that “there is no alternative to DGPS in the Gulf, if you need that degree of accuracy and security,” Mr Stanley says.


Today’s service

MENAS’ service today includes maintaining around 54 physical buoys, 4 DGPS stations, and some safety radio communications, including marine safety information broadcasts and “NAVTEX (Navigational Telex) delivery of warnings and forecasts.


The buoys still need maintenance even when solar powered – covering inspection, maintenance and overhaul. MENAS operates condition monitoring of the buoys, so they transmit data about their status.


This is all done to standards prescribed by IALA (International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities). The MENAS staff are qualified to IALA standards.


MENAS does not come under the jurisdiction of any international authority, “So we regulate ourselves – to the best international standards,” he says.


MENAS has an Operations Centre in Bahrain, which records status, performance and reliability of the Aids to Navigation.



MENAS board members have a deep background in tanker operations and other areas of shipping.


Chairman Alan Marsh is a former CEO of Braemar Shipping Group and director of ITIC.


CEO Peter Stanley formerly held a variety of roles in BP, finally as head of control in BP’s corporate segment.


Director Robertus Brummer currently also serves as Senior Director Group Procurement with Maersk A/S.


Director Guy Mason currently serves as COO of BP Shipping Ltd.


Director Captain John Hughes is formerly operations VP of ExxonMobil’s international oil and gas tanker fleet and director of OCIMF.


Director Captain Yousef Al Saqer is presently Manager Fleet newbuilding projects KOTC, formerly Manager fleet marine operations KOTC.


Director Captain Tomoyuki Koyama is presently Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NYK Ship Management Pte Ltd.


Director Captain John Evans is currently Global Manager Maritime Security and Fleet Q&HSSE with Shell Transport &  Trading Company.


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