Coast Guard Expands Commercial Vessel AIS Requirements

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The U.S. Coast Guard is expanding Automatic Identification System (AIS) requirements to include additional commercial vessels.

The change, which applies to U.S.-flag and foreign-flag vessels that are 300 gross tons or less, went into effect in April 2016.

Information on the AIS requirements and vessels affected can be found in the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Register Notice from January 30, 2015:

Most commercial vessels operating on American waterways are required to have AIS, a navigation safety communications system designed to mitigate collisions and enhance maritime situational awareness.

The International Maritime Organization adopted the use of AIS for ocean-going vessels in 2000, and the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 mandated AIS usage for most commercial vessels operating on the U.S. navigable waters.

All AIS users must abide by certain Coast Guard regulations published January 2015 regarding its operation and programming.

AIS increases situational awareness across the U.S. Marine Transportation System (MTS). The system can also be used to augment the nation’s Aids to Navigation system by extending the effective range of buoys, beacons, ranges and sound signals, according to the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard is partnering with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Ocean Services to add Physical Oceanographic Real-time System (NOAA PORTS) meteorological and hydrological information into the Coast Guard’s AIS transmissions.

For more information on the new requirements that apply to all AIS users, the AIS Encoding Guide and the U.S. AIS Network, visit the Coast Guard Navigation Center (NAVCEN) website at

source: U.S. Coast Guard