Coast Guard warns that inaccurate vessel data can undermine AIS
Professional Mariner|September 2020
Coast Guard warns that inaccurate vessel data can undermine AIS
A spring collision on the Mississippi River that resulted in several fatalities has spurred the U.S. Coast Guard to ramp up efforts to get two points across about automatic identification systems: that it’s unsafe to rely solely on the communication tool to know what vessels are nearby, and that improper entry of AIS data can even be deadly.
Patricia McCarthy

Toward that end, the Coast Guard is strongly urging vessel owners and operators to make use of a downloadable AIS Encoding Guide that spells out exactly how to properly update information and best use the technology, said Jorge Arroyo, a Coast Guard AIS specialist.

Mariners have an obligation to accurately enter static information such as the length, name and other characteristics of their vessels into AIS so that they’re transmitting the right information to other vessels, said Caitlyn Stewart, senior director of regulatory affairs for the American Waterways Operators (AWO). And that’s not difficult to do.

What can be problematic, Stewart said, is getting dynamic information for each voyage properly entered in a timely way without it being an undue burden. “A lot of towing vessels use AIS systems with pretty rudimentary keypads, so entering data is a time-consuming endeavor,” she said. Think flip-phone versus smartphone.

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September 2020