AIS in brief ... (Automatic
Identification System - also known as Universal Automatic
AIS Class A
equipment has been a
to the larger SOLAS deep-sea vessels since 2004,
following its specification just a few years earlier. Each unit contains a VHF
modem and GPS receiver, and a simple display, and is capable of transmitting and
receiving bursts of data including the vessel ID, position, course, speed, etc.
Data received in this way can then be displayed by Harbour Authorities,
Coastguards, and other vessels, on bespoke displays or overlaid onto charts or
radar displays. It is an automated system so requires no manual intervention.
And it is a
truly global system, with the FCC having resolved a licensing
dispute over North American use of AIS frequency 87-B.
The benefits for the vessel are two-fold. By
your identity and position to local traffic on a regular basis, it makes sure
they know you are there, and can take avoiding action if needed. And
this information from vessels in the vicinity means you know their
course, speed, rate of turn etc and can take appropriate action yourself. And of
course their identity, MMSI and radio call sign are displayed, so it is easy to make radio
contact if needed. And then there are the enormous advantages for those
concerned with vessel traffic services (VTS), anti-smuggling, anti-piracy and homeland
AIS Class B, Receivers and more...
Of course, an efficient AIS system depends on vessels being
equipped with AIS equipment. Thankfully, the vast majority of deep sea vessels
and passenger vessels are now equipped with Class A systems. But as ever,
it is impractical to burden smaller craft with the same expensive, powerful
equipment as fitted to vast container ships and bulk carriers. A handful of lower-cost
high-spec AIS Receivers
such as our
are now available - these will warn YOU that a vessel
is in your vicinity, but will NOT warn the other vessel that YOU are there (losing the
two-way advantage of the transponder).
AIS Class B
was specified precisely to fill this gap - as a much less expensive, limited
range and limited feature sub-set of the original Class A units.
AIS Class B transceivers, such as our very
SeaTraceR, integrate seamlessly with the
established existing Class A systems and equipment. As well as selling well into
the leisure market, the
has found many roles in the workboat and offshore markets, and is part of
several mandatory fits around the globe. Our heavily-ruggedised
is doing valiant service in pipe-laying operations in several oceans. And our
breakthrough in low cost monitoring of smaller assets, fishing fleets, etc
Land-based AIS networks are rapidly covering the busiest coastal regions, but
one of the best known is AISLive. A joint
venture between Lloyd's Register/Fairplay of the UK and HITT Group of the
Netherlands, it allows subscribers to view Global AIS data in near real time.
order to subscribe, companies and organisations are required to provide details
of their activities within the maritime sector together with full contact
information. AISLive reserves the right to refuse access to the Industry
service to any party. As well as real-time vessel information, the industry
service offers ship search, arrival/departure notification (trigger) and alert
facilities. There are now several competing AIS viewing networks, some of which
are free to use.
And in the last
year a number of satellites have shown that AIS data can be collected over wide
areas, and this market segment will undoubtedly grow.