AIS (Automatic Identification System) is a system utilising your vessels GPS position, VHF antenna and vessel identifier (MMSI) to automatically transmit on a regular basis your vessels GPS
position, course, speed and vessel identifier to allow other vessels in the region also equipped with AIS equipment to see you.
Types of AIS
There are 2 main types of AIS.
Class A: These devices are primarily designed for commercial use and provide more frequent updates. These devices allow more vessel information to be available and include their own display and visual representation of nearby AIS equipped vessels. They also must utilise their own VHF antenna.
Class B: These devices are designed for recreational vessels or small commercial vessels. These devices can be mounted out of sight and can share a single VHF antenna with the vessels VHF radio (when using a VHF splitter). They are usually interfaced to the vessels chart plotter to allow other nearby AIS equipped vessels to be overlaid on the display along with their details (name, speed, course).
Benefits of AIS
- Increased security and awareness of nearby vessels.
- Visibility to large commercial vessels
- Calculated Closest Point of Approach (CPA) and Time to Closest Point of Approach (TCPA) when interfaced with a compatible chart plotter.
- When using a free website like www.marinetraffic.com your vessel becomes visible on the website allowing:
- Vessel tracking in almost real-time
- Ability for family and friends to see where you are
- Security of your vessel when not on board (at anchor, or in a marina)
- You to have fun tracking your friends boats
- See a track of where the vessel has been
To find out more about AIS, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority have a comprehensive website with lots of information and further reading.