If you own or operate a commercial vessel in US waters (ports, rivers, lakes, and seas) you are likely to be affected by this new rule. The United States Coast Guard is publishing a new rule which will require most commercial vessels operating in US waters to fit and operate a USCG certified AIS transceiver. On 23rd December 2014, President Obama signed the final rule documentation relevant to the new USCG AIS Rule. We expect it to be formally published in the coming weeks whereupon those vessels affected shall have a limited window of 7 months to install an AIS Class A transceiver to be operating legally. Currently only vessels over 300GRT on an international voyage are required to have an AIS Class A transponder. It is likely this ruling will impact on 40,000 vessels.
An AIS transponder send your boat’s identity, position, course and speed to other vessels equipped with an AIS unit. This data can then be interfaced to a chart plotter display to present an overlay of targets with their heading information. It greatly aids navigation and helps with collision avoidance. Signals are transmitted over two dedicated VHF frequencies so typical range from a Class A unit is 20-30NM depending upon antenna height. All commercial ships over 300GRT are mandated to carry a Class A AIS transponder and the new USCG ruling will also mean other commercial vessels in the US will require a Class A unit. Class A units have a display to show an overlay of targets and also connect to the vessels electronic chart plotter. Voyage data can be entered into the Class A display.
Other users including yachtsmen can opt for the cheaper Class B type units like the Digital Yacht AIT1500/AIT2000/AIT3000. Class B units are fully integrated into the AIS system but have a lower 2W transmit power and only send their data every 30 seconds. They also require a chart plotter to display target data
What equipment is required?
A USCG approved Class A transponder like Digital Deep Sea’s CLA1000 meets the requirement of the mandate. Its built tough, is extremely reliable, fully approved and competitively priced as well as supported through a technical dealer network.
The CLA1000 requires two antennas – a GPS antenna (included) and connection to a dedicated VHF antenna. It may be your vessel already has a spare VHF antenna but if not a good quality (3dBi) VHF antenna should be fitted and ideally a version which is tuned to AIS frequencies (162MHz) which are slightly higher than the normal 156MHz range used for voice traffic. Digital Deep Sea can help specify the right antenna for your vessel and even have a bundle package available
The picture above also shows a couple of useful accessories like our HSC100 fast compass sensor which can be connected to the CLA1000 to provide Rate-of-Turn and vessel heading data for the AIS transmissions. Also show is our Pilot Plug cable allowing connection of a PC or MAC to the CLA1000
What’s in the box?
This video is a little old, but we’ve been in the AIS business for a while which helps us support you better. Here’s a video showing what’s included with the CLA1000
I know I have to get one but are there any advantages of installing an AIS?
Nobody likes a mandate with deadlines for installation but AIS genuinely improves navigation, safety and will make vessels more efficient for the future. Unlike radar, AIS positively identifies a target with MMSI, callsign and name allowing communications to be quickly established. The CLA1000 can also decode ATON (AIS aids to navigation) – these synthetic markers show on an AIS display but may not physically exist allowing dynamic management of the waterways. AIS Personal SARTs are also available for MOB applications. Additionally the AIS network can transmit information such as weather to mariners in real time.
iPad, MAC and PC Navigation
The CLA1000 is fitted with a pilot plug connector on the front of the display. This allows GPS and AIS data to be connected to other devices either wirelessly (to an iPad or tablet using our WLN10HS NMEA to WiFi Server or PilotLink) or via a cable to a PC or MAC. Digital Yacht has a great range of apps like NavLink US – a full featured charting and navigation program with detailed NOAA charts and a great AIS overlay including vessel scaling
How do I get more information?
You can get further information on the CLA1000 from firstname.lastname@example.org