Bahrain has become the first Arab country to tap into a new global ship-tracking system, which will beef up its coastal security and speed up search and rescue operations.
It will be able to pinpoint any of its own commercial ships anywhere in the world and track vessels coming within 1,000 miles of its coasts.
Rapid access to accurate information will also allow Bahrain to pinpoint and reach any ship in distress in it waters and other vessels in the area with greater speed and accuracy, say officials.
The General Organization of Sea Ports (GOP) says it has completed all the necessary requirements for the Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) system, which all International Maritime Organisation (IMO) member states are now obliged to implement.
The global LRIT system enables participating countries to pinpoint their own commercial ships anywhere in the world, at any time.
It will also help with search-and-rescue operations by giving instant information on shipping in the area.
The system entitles IMO-member governments to receive reports on identification and position of ships registered to that their state, wherever the ship is located.
They will also be able to receive the same information about ships that have declared their intention to enter a port in a member state's territory; ships passing within 1,000 miles of the coastline of a member state's territory and ships in an area where a search and rescue operation is underway.
All of this information will be received, upon request, through a system of national, regional, co-operative and international LRIT data centers, using the LRIT international data exchange.
Countries with access to LRIT data are required to respect the commercial confidentiality and sensitivity of the information they receive.
They must also protect the information they receive from unauthorized access or disclosure and use it in a manner consistent with international law.
Bahrain has established its system ahead of the September 30 deadline set by the IMO.
This makes it the first Arab country and one of only 60 others to do so.
GOP director general Hassan Ali Al Majed said he was very pleased with the accomplishment, which has given Bahrain the first-mover advantage in an area that is critical for maritime security and safety.
"As the first Arab country to implement the LRIT system, Bahrain's move demonstrates the GOP's commitment to continue abiding by all existing international regulations and new requirements in order to ensure safe, secure and clean waters around the Kingdom," he stated.
GOP assistant director general of maritime affairs Isa Yateem said the LRIT system would ensure tighter monitoring of ships entering Bahraini waters, but said the main purpose of the programme is to improve safety.
"The LRIT system was first created back in 2002 for security, safety and marine environment reasons but mainly search and rescue operations," he explained.
"For security it will mean that we will have more information on the ships entering the waters around Bahrain,” he added.