AIS Legislation Watch: New US rules in 2015

Posted by PortVision

On December 23, 2014, US President Obama signed new USCG legislation into law, thus allowing the US Coast Guard to establish new AIS documentation rules. The law and new rules became effective on March 2, 2015 with the requirement that all vessels affected install and operate a USCG certified AIS transceiver by March 1, 2016. Fines for ignoring this requirement can run up to $40,000.


The new rules require most commercial vessels operating in the US to install and implement a USCG certified AIS transceiver. It is estimated that 40,000 vessels will be affected since the rules apply to all self-propelled commercial vessels of 65 ft or more operating within navigable US waters. A handy breakdown of the vessels involved can be found on the Business Wire site.  Previously, the international SOLAS regulation required those ships over 300 GT on international travel to use an AIS Class A transceiver. Most commercial vessels in Europe are already required to be fitted with AIS transceivers.

These rules involve two main types of AIS transceiver: Class A and Class B. Class A type transceivers have built-in display screens and transmit at 12.5W frequently (every few seconds). Class B type transceivers are smaller and do not include a display screen. They transmit at 2W less frequently (every 30 seconds). According to the USCG site, Class B AIS devices are permissible only on dredges; fishing industry vessels over 65 ft., and vessels over 65 ft. certified to carry fewer than 150 passengers, do not operate in a VMRS area or at speeds in excess of 14 knots. 

AIS was originally designed to prevent collisions on the water. Now, AIS has proven its usefulness on shore for a variety of applications including ship tracking, port security, coastal security, fisheries management, port traffic flow management, port efficiency, and providing historical data for marine investigations. Virtual AIS Aids to Navigation (ATONs), not affixed to a physical marker, enable dynamic, real-time, oversight of the nation's waterways.

PortVision has been a leader in driving shore-side maritime business intelligence from AIS since 2006. For more information about how PortVision can enhance maritime domain awareness in your organization, visit

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Posted on May 19, 2015, 3:00:06 PM

Topics: Blog