Recently, two merchant vessels collided in the Bay of Biscay about 250 miles from Land’s End. One of the vessels began taking on water and its crew of seven took to two life rafts before the vessel sank.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) will be deciding whether to allocate specific channels for satellite detection of AIS. The decision is scheduled during the next world radio conference (WRC) in January/February of 2012. Early speculation leads me to believe that the ITU will approve these channels so I’ve started pondering the implications. Once approved, Satellite AIS will enter a new phase in the political arena where it will be recognized as a technology that is positioned to support future developments such as inclusion in the next generation GMDSS (global maritime distress and safety system), small vessel tracking, and possibly even inclusion into the IMO LRIT system for vessel tracking.
One great advantage of the exactAIS® service is its truly global coverage, including the remote Arctic region that had previously proved difficult to monitor. The Arctic sea ice is melting at an alarming rate, allowing for near year round shipping along the Northwest Passage. The alternatives to this Northern sea route are transport arteries half a world away that pass through the Suez and Panama Canals adding significant days to any journey. It is important to also realize though the environmental impact daily shipping will have on this fragile ecological system. The ability to monitor shipping activity throughout the vast Arctic region can help ensure that proper routes are being taken so as not to disrupt the environment.
I recently presented on the basics of AIS (both terrestrial and satellite) to a group at the 19th Biennial Conference Society for Marine Mammalogy. The workshop was on using AIS for the protection of the environment and in particular whale species.
The inadvertent transfer of harmful aquatic organisms in a vessel’s ballast water has been determined to have caused a significant adverse impact to many of the world’s coastal regions. The international maritime community, with the support of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has developed several new regulations to help prevent the introduction of unwanted organisms. These new regulations state that vessels are required to exchange their ballast in the open ocean (1000m deep). However this rule may result in vessels burning extra fuel and time if the transit area does not normally require open ocean passage such as from the US East Coast into the Great lakes. Competent maritime authorities currently have a very limited capability to monitor vessel’s compliance to this rule.
New amendments have been added to SOLAS regulation regarding the annual testing of AIS systems. Now all systems will have to be subjected to annual testing conducted by an approved surveyor or servicing facility. The tests will be looking to verify the correct programming of the ship static information and data exchange as well as verifying the radio performance. This new regulation will result in surveyors being equipped with special AIS test equipment and very detailed technical knowledge. The firm conducting the testing must be certified to work on AIS equipment and the surveyors must hold a formal DNV or national AIS service supplier approval. For the full article, click here.
Recently the UK announced that ships sailing under Britain's flag will be permitted to carry armed guards on some perilous routes to combat the threat from pirates. Click here for more on that story. David Cameron, PM of Britain, stated, “The evidence is that ships with armed guards don't get attacked, don't get taken for hostage or for ransom, and so we think this is a very important step forward”
exactEarth is often asked about the relationship between LRIT and Satellite AIS (S-AIS). I believe that the two technologies are complimentary not competitive.