Term of the Day: Automatic Identification System (AIS)

Automatic Identification System or AIS is a system used by ships and Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) principally for the identification and locating of vessels.

The system is intended to assist a vessel’s watchstanding officers and allow maritime authorities to track and monitor vessel movements.

AIS is capable of providing information about a ship to other ships and to coastal authorities automatically.

According to the IMO regulation 19 of SOLAS Chapter V, AIS has to be fitted aboard all ships of 300 gross tonnage and upwards engaged on international voyages, cargo ships of 500 gross tonnage and upwards not engaged on international voyages, and all passenger ships irrespective of size.

The original purpose of AIS was solely collision avoidance but many other applications have since developed and continue to be developed, such as: Fishing Fleet Monitoring and Control, Vessel Traffic Services, Maritime Security, Aids to Navigation, Search and Rescue, Accident Investigation and Fleet and Cargo Tracking, etc.

World Maritime News Staff