World Marine Aids to Navigation Day

Jun 29, 2023 · 9 mins read ·

Shipping & Vessels
buoys floating on water

July 1st is World Marine Aids to Navigation Day so what better topic for today’s blog post? But what is World Marine Aids to Navigation Day, why was it started and what does it mean for those who work in a job at sea? Let’s get into it.

World Marine Aids to Navigation Day is an annual event that is celebrated each year on July 1st. The day is a relatively new one, having been established by the International Association of Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) in May 2018 at their 13th General Assembly. 

July 1st was chosen as this was the date that the IALA was created, thus the first World Marine Aids to Navigation Day was celebrated on that date in 2019.

The main aim of the day is to raise awareness of the importance of marine aids to navigation. And that brings us on to…what are marine aids to navigation?!

What are marine aids to navigation?

For a deeper dive into aids to navigation, you can take a look at this blog post here but in a nutshell, an aid to navigation in the maritime industry is any type of marker, signal or guidance equipment which helps a seafarer navigate their vessel. 

The most commonly recognized navigational aids include lighthouses, buoys, fog signals, day beacons and radio beacons. The purpose of these aids being to provide ships, and those who are in charge of navigating their safe passages, with information about the location of hazards and safe water.

Read more: What Do Modern Ships Use to Navigate?

What is the purpose of World Marine Aids to Navigation Day?

World Marine Aids to Navigation Day (or World ATON Day) is an opportunity to learn more about marine aids to navigation and their importance to safe shipping. It is also an opportunity to highlight the work of the people who maintain and operate these vital safety devices.

In the words of the IALA themselves “The principal objective [of World ATON Day] is to promote greater awareness of IALA and its work by bringing to the attention of the wider public the role of Marine Aids to Navigation and the significance of IALA’s technical work in enhancing the safety of navigation worldwide.”

Read more: Everything You Need to Know About Lightships

Although there will be events hosted across the globe in honor of the day, the main World Marine Aids to Navigation Day event will be held in Morocco this year and will feature a trip to the Cap Spartel lighthouse to celebrate its nomination as an IALA Heritage Lighthouse of the year.

How can you celebrate World Marine Aids to Navigation Day?

If you want to show your appreciation for lighthouses, beacons and buoys, as well as those who work with them and you’re wondering how to celebrate World Marine Aids to Navigation Day, here are a few suggestions: 

  • Learn more about marine aids to navigation. There are lots of resources available online - the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) website is a good place to start! 
  • If you live near the coast, why not visit a lighthouse or other marine aid to navigation?
  • If you’re not a seafarer, but you know someone who is, talk to them about the importance of marine aids to navigation.
  • Find out more and offer your support to organizations that work to maintain and operate marine aids to navigation.

Although seafarers are incredibly hard working and risk a lot in order to bring us the goods and products we need, want and rely on, there is a lot more that goes on behind the scenes of the shipping industry.

Read more: Maritime and Shipping Glossary - the Nautical Terms You Need to Know

From people who work in maritime recruitment and crew planning to make sure that vessels have the right number and correct ranks of seafarers onboard to those who work in ports to the men and women who manage and maintain lighthouses and other marine aids to navigation, each has a vital part to play.

And by recognizing World Marine Aids to Navigation Day, we can play our own small role in helping to ensure that ships, and their crew and cargo, continue to navigate safely around the world.

Other maritime observance days you might find interesting

If you can’t get enough of all things maritime and, in particular, aids to navigation, you might also be interested in finding out more about the International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend (ILLW) which is normally held on the 3rd full weekend in August.

This year the ILLW will take place on the 19th and 20th of August in the United Kingdom with the Association of Lighthouse Keepers (ALK) also holding their International Lighthouse Heritage Weekend over the same two days. 

Their objective is to encourage lighthouse managers, keepers and owners to open their lighthouse or lightstation and their visitor centers, if any, to the public with a view to raising the profile of lighthouses, lightvessels and other navigational aids. The main aim being to preserve Great Britain’s long and proud maritime history and heritage.

Meanwhile the United States hold their own National Lighthouse Day on the 7th of August each year to raise the profile of lighthouses and lighthouse keepers along their own coastlines.

How to become a lighthouse keeper

And if you really want to take your passion for marine aids to navigation to the next level, you might want to know how to become a lighthouse keeper! Yes, this is an actual job, and as this article from recruiters Indeed explains, your responsibilities will vary depending on if a lighthouse is still fully functional or if it serves as a historical landmark.  

To summarize, if you want to become a lighthouse keeper, whether professionally or as a volunteer, you will need to have a genuine passion for all things maritime. Living along the coast or near to a large lake that has a lighthouse will obviously be key, as is having good communication and technical skills.

Last but not least, you will need to be physically fit. A lighthouse keeper will normally be required to lift and carry equipment and then, of course, there are the stairs! You’ll need to climb anywhere from 50 to 100 stairs multiple times a day so if you want to get your step count in - quite literally - this could be the job for you!

If becoming a lighthouse keeper isn’t your ideal career choice, but you are a seafarer who is looking for your next contract, we can help. We have plenty of jobs at sea for all ranks and levels of experience and we’d love to hear from you if you’re suitable for one of our vacancies.

All you need to do is to create a free Martide account and fill in your information then you’ll be able to apply for any of our open seafarer jobs. We look forward to seeing you onboard soon! 

Eve Church

Eve Church

Eve is Martide's content writer, publishing regular posts on everything from our maritime recruitment and crew planning software to life at sea. Eve has been writing professionally for more than two decades, crafting everything from SEO-focused blog posts and website landing pages to magazine articles and corporate whitepapers.


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