Guidance from the Coastguard on using AIS

 The following information concerning Class B AIS comes straight fom the Coastguard?

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has an Automatic Identification System (AIS) that receives information from AIS equipped vessels around the United Kingdom coastline. All Coastguard Rescue Centres are equipped with an AIS display providing a real time maritime plot.

At any time there are approximately 1100 Class ‘A’ commercial vessels around the United Kingdom.

There are two types of transponder for vessels:
? Class ‘A’ equipment for use by vessels for which it is mandatory to fit and operate AIS.
? Class ‘B’ is a lower specification transponder, available for use by mariners who wish to take advantage of the benefits of AIS. This equipment transmits less information, while still providing identity and navigational information.
In addition there is the facility for aids to navigation to transmit AIS data, providing information that can be received before the navigational aid is visible.

Keith Oliver, an MCA trainer for AIS, said that the introduction of a real time maritime plot at rescue centres will enable Search and Rescue Mission Coordinators to monitor casualties, responding vessels and aircraft. It will also provide information to enhance forward planning.

With the Class B units now on sale in the United Kingdom, it is essential that they are configured correctly.



For a Class B unit to operate, the following information will need to be entered into the static data fields of the transponder:

? Ships Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number.
? Ships Name.
? Ships Callsign.
? Ships Dimensions as being Length and Beam.
? Type of Vessel.

Class B transponders do not allow for the data to be changed while in use, and it is important that the ‘type of vessel’ is entered correctly. This information is available to other users of the AIS system, and an incorrect entry may place an un-intentional obligation on other vessels.

Class B leisure users are advised that they have two suitable options for type of vessel, ‘Yacht’ or ‘Pleasure Craft’. To assist in deciding which to use the following definitions should be used:
? Use Yacht (36) for a vessel where the primary means of propulsion is by Sail.
? Use ‘Pleasure Craft’ (37) for any other means of propulsion.

Yacht owners are reminded of their obligation to show the appropriate day mark in accordance with the Convention on the International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea (COLREGS) 1972, Rule 25E ‘A vessel proceeding under sail when also being powered by machinery shall exhibit forward where it can best be seen a conical shape, apex downwards’.

For further information or advice please contact local Maritime and Coastguard Agency Rescue Centres, Marine Offices, or the MCA One Stop Shop on 0870-600-6505.