USCG reminder about AIS for ships, despite lack of US shore stations

The U.S. Coast Guard has reminded us that the requirements for installation of Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) came into force on 31 December 2004 as per SOLAS regulation 19 and U.S. regulation 33 CFR 164.46. Vessels not in compliance will be granted a short period of time to come into compliance prior to any penalty action. Those vessels which have not already had AIS installed are recommended to initiate action to get the system installed at their earliest opportunity.


33 CFR 164.53(a) requires authorisation from the relevant Captain of the Port (COTP) or District Commander to proceed to a U. S. port with any required navigation equipment discrepancies. Therefore, any vessel required to have AIS installed that hasn't done so will need to notify the COTP and receive a Letter of Deviation before being allowed to proceed into a U.S. port.


Having thanked the United States Coast Guard (USCG) for the reminder, we have pointed out that we understand that the USCG currently has only ten AIS base station units in place which, if correct, we consider to be too few to monitor the 12,375 miles of coastline and 25,000 miles of river or inland shoreline within the United States. We understand that the USCG intends to install another 70 receivers on buoys that send weather and environmental information to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) data centre.


We have made the point that AIS installations on vessels were accelerated due (in the main) to a United States request at the IMO, and that INTERTANKO voiced its concern at the time, stressing the importance of ensuring that coastal states undertake the necessary preparations as well as the vessels.


We have stressed the importance of ships’ masters knowing that, in the event of a terrorist threat, their routine transmissions WILL be monitored. INTERTANKO is pressing for coastal states to have shore-based AIS facilities in place to mirror the AIS sea-borne implementation dates. Without supporting AIS shore facilities the use of AIS as a security measure will be very ineffective and will only function as ship-to-ship AIS communication.


Contact: Howard Snaith