The United States Coast Guard (USCG)’s rules on vessels carrying Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponder equipment comes into force today. It affects all classes of vessels, including commercial shipping, fishing vessels and tugs that operate in US navigable waters.
The USCG states that any commercial vessel more than 65ft long needs to carry AIS equipment. The rules includes fishing vessels over 26ft and tugs that are more than 65ft, and with more than 600hp of pull capacity. Vessels certified to carry more than 150 passengers and vessels engaged in the movement of certain dangerous cargo, flammable or combustible liquid cargo in bulk are also included, regardless of length. Also dredgers that operate near a shipping channel must use an AIS transponder.
The rules significantly increase the number of commercial vessels required to install AIS. The USCG introduced the new rules to improve navigational safety by increasing the amount of AIS data available to users of US navigable waters. Most commercial vessels will need to have installed AIS Class A devices. But certain vessels, including fishing vessels, dredgers and small passengers ships that operate at speeds of less than 14 knots, can use Class B devices.