Lockheed Martin will provide the Arab Republic of Egypt with a fully integrated maritime search and rescue (SAR) system for the Gulf of Suez (GOS) under a $50 million contract signed today in Cairo. The SAR system will complement the Gulf of Suez Vessel Traffic Information Management System (VTIMS) provided by Lockheed Martin under a 1998 contract and provide the Egyptian Ministry of Transport with all the necessary capabilities to manage and respond to any maritime distress in the Gulf of Suez.
The SAR contract was signed in the presence of the Prime Minister of Egypt, His Excellency Dr. Atef Ebaid; the Minister of Transportation, His Excellency Dr. Ibrahim El-Demairi; U.S. Ambassador C. David Welch; the president of Lockheed Martin Naval Electronics & Surveillance Systems (NE&SS)-Radar Systems, Michael A. Smith; and Admiral Sherin El Kady, chairman of the Ports and Lighthouses Administration, which is the customer for the SAR system.
"The oil rigs on the Gulf of Suez and the coral reefs that also are present are critical to the Arab Republic of Egypt economy," said Admiral
Sherin. "But the Gulf is considered a difficult marine passage especially since the establishment of the SOMED petroleum line, which uses huge oil
carriers. It was imperative that we take action to aid in ship navigation and to avoid costly naval accidents, especially those that could ruin the coral reefs, which are a national treasure."
As part of the SAR contract, Lockheed Martin will deliver 13 specialized vessels including two water tractor tugboats, three motor lifeboats, three utility boats and five rigid inflatable hull boats. All will carry specialized electronic equipment, including Automatic Identification System transponders, to provide data exchange and real-time ship-to-shore communication.
Separately, Lockheed Martin will provide specialized software to interface with the existing Gulf of Suez VTIMS to support prompt and efficient SAR mission planning and execution. The GOS SAR system will receive distress signals from vessels and will accurately locate their positions using a combination of radar detection, radio direction finders and closed-circuit T.V. cameras. The specialized SAR software will allow the SAR operator to plan and execute the SAR mission by locating and immediately dispatching the best available Search And Rescue Unit (SRU) using a ship-to-shore voice and data communication system.
The program calls for the creation of five Rescue Coordination Centers (RCC) in Ras el-Adbiya, Safaga, Sharm El-Sheikh, False Ras Gharib and Alexandria. The existing Vessel Traffic Center at Sharm el Sheikh on the tip of the Sinai Peninsula will be upgraded with SAR equipment to better support the recreational boats that traverse this world-famous marine sanctuary. At the same time, the Port of Alexandria will receive a new Vessel Traffic System
and SAR center that will allow the SAR mission to extend into the Mediterranean Sea.
Ports and Lighthouses Administration personnel will attend extensive training programs in the U.S. and Egypt under the contract, some of which will be taught by the U.S. Coast Guard.
"This unique combination of VTIMS and SAR means that Egypt will have one of the most advanced waterway management systems of its kind in the world. The high technology capabilities of Lockheed Martin Corporation, together with our many years of experience in U.S. and international marine traffic management projects, will help protect Egypt's citizens and other mariners, its commerce and natural resources," said Smith.
The SAR system is scheduled to be complete in 30 months. It is financed by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).