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What is AIS?A simple explanation of how it works and how everyone can access it

15th April 2020

AIS Automatic Identification system

AIS a simple explanation

AIS Automatic Identification System was mandatory for vessels over 300 GT in 2002 Now all fishing vessels 15m and over must have one installed

Over the years two class types of AIS have developed

AIS A for large commercial vessels

AIS B for lighter commercial vessels and leisure craft

If you are a boat owner many marine electrics dealers will be happy to tell you more and help you choose which one might suit you .

For the general public there are links to free apps later in this article

AIS Primary Functions

AIS is intended as a navigation aid to allow vessels to identify other vessels and also to be seen by other vessels.

Radar is still considered to be the main method for navigation and there are obvious reasons for this. Not all boats have AIS installed and not all boats choose to display their position.

However AIS has become more widely used in navigation and the information about a ships name , speed , route and other details are very useful as an aid to navigation An AIS Alarm

Using AIS

AIS was designed to allow ships to view other ships in their area and to be seen by those ships and is fitted and used on more vessels as standard part of navigation

However it can also be viewed by the public on the internet through many apps and other providers

you can easily download and view ships around the world using one of these providers


Most of these apps have a free download , for a small subscription you can get additional information , If you haven't already tried one of these apps this might be as good a time as any to have a look

This article is only intended as brief outline of AIS it is in no way a definitive description of how it functions and what its uses are.There are many detailed explanations available on line the most comprehensive for our purpose is here on wikipedia

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