With the help of a small Canadian technology company, the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) has installed the first fully lit marine navigation system in the world. Carmanah Technologies Inc. of Victoria, B.C., has invented a small, powerful, lightweight, and most importantly inexpensive solar-powered marine light that completes the CCG's quest to build a low-cost lighted navigation buoy that runs for five years with no maintenance. "Carmanah lights are small and lightweight so local fishermen can install and remove them each year around the fishing season. We provide a better service to our clients, reduce costs and help local communities," says Mike Clements, Manager of the Aids to Navigation Program for the CCG in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The St. John's office of the CCG provided valuable feedback during the product's development. The result is that the CCG is now able to outline the entire Labrador and Newfoundland coast (23,000 km) with 1,650 lighted buoys Ã¦ half of which are outfitted with Carmanah's short range LED (light emitting diode) lights. And Carmanah was also to announce a major sales agreement with the CCG's Atlantic region. Before Carmanah's solar powered LED technology, such a complete system was far too costly. The CCG expects to save $830,000 annually in Newfoundland and $2,900,000 nationally by introducing lighted buoys that have a 5-year lifespan. Previously, big Coast Guard ships were needed to haul large buoys in to change their lights and batteries. Installation of the new, smaller lights and buoys can be contracted out to small operators in local communities, helping create employment and give locals control over the navigation lights they rely on.
The CCG is excited about this because it will save fuel costs and ship time and allow them to focus their resources on other tasks such as search and rescue and environmental protection.