Back in February of 2016, the IMO adopted new guidelines for the safe and effective onboard operational use of Automatic Identification Systems (AIS). The adoption of these guidelines – per Resolution A.1106(29) – in effect revoked earlier resolutions: A.917(22) and A.956(23). The new guidelines offer vital information to mariners on the use and potential use of AIS, as well as its limits.Included in those guidelines is the amended Safety of Life at Sea Act (SOLAS) that – per Regulation V/19.2.4 -- requires use of shipborne AIS on:
- All ships of 300 gross tonnage and upwards engaged in international voyages
- Cargo ships of 500 gross tonnage and upwards not engaged in international voyages
- Passenger ships irrespective of size
Use of AIS in Collision Avoidance
The point is also made that the officer on watch (OOW) should always be aware that not all vessels are equipped with AIS, and that even those that are, might, under certain circumstances, switch it off.
IMO Resolution A.1106 (29) provides the following guidance concerning the use of AIS in collision avoidance situations:
AIS information may merely be used to assist in collision avoidance decision-making. When using the AIS in the ship-to-ship mode for anti-collision purposes, the following cautionary points should be borne in mind:
- AIS is an additional source of navigation Information, it does not replace, but supports, navigational systems such as radar and VTS; and
- The use of AIS does not negate the responsibility of the OOW to comply at all times with the Collision Regulation, particularly Rule 7, when determining whether risk of collision exists.
Verification of Information
The accuracy of information is key to the effectiveness of AIS. To that end, the IMO Resolution A.1106(29) stipulates, among other things, the following:
- To ensure that your ship’s static information is correct and up-to-date, the officer of the watch (OOW) should check the data whenever there is a reason for it. As a minimum, this should be done once per voyage or once per month, whichever is shorter. The data may be change only on the authority of the master.
- The users remain responsible for all information entered into the system and the information added by the sensors.
While better safety at sea is the overarching aim of the revised guidelines, the use of AIS also opens up the potential for better business intelligence.
Smarter Business Decisions
With more than 400,000 ships worldwide equipped with transponders, AIS data and other data sources can be analyzed to provide a powerful source of business intelligence. Insights into the competition can be gained via AIS data mining coupled with certain kinds of software. Insights such as:
- Which ports and terminals have congestion issues?
- How much time do others spend in port and anchorage?
- How do competitors perform in terms of slow steaming and constant speed profile? How does this affect their fuel bill?
From safety-on-the-seas to strategic decision-making, the use of AIS – as outlined in the revised guidelines from IMO – provides a veritable boatload of benefits to today’s mariners.
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