Marine AIS (Automatic Identification System) is a tracking system used on commercial and recreational vessels that allows captains to identify, locate and communicate with other vessels by an electronic data transfer of navigational and vessel information with other AIS equipped vessels nearby.

What information is provided by MARINE AIS?

Marine AIS will share the following information every 2 to 10 seconds:

  • Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) or unique identification
  • GPS position, latitude and longitude
  • Speed of your vessel
  • Navigational status, such as “Anchored” or “Under Way”
  • Rate of turn, including degrees and direction for collision avoidance
  • Course over ground
  • Heading
  • Bearing
  • Radio “Call Sign”
  • Type and size of vessel
  • Destination and estimated time of arrival

What does MARINE AIS do?

Marine AIS enhances the mariner’s situational awareness. A marine AIS allows ships to view marine traffic in their area, as well as, be seen by that traffic. Participating vessels requires a dedicated VHF AIS transceiver that allows local traffic to be viewed on an AIS-enabled chartplotter, or computer monitor, while transmitting information about the ship itself to other AIS receivers. Marine AIS therefore provides identity to previously unknown radar and visual targets, as well as, allows users to share dynamic navigational data, position course, speed, destinations and arrival times. 

How does MARINE AIS work?

Using a VHF transmitter built in to the receiver, marine AIS transceivers automatically broadcast information, such as their position, speed and navigational status, at regular intervals over two dedicated VHF frequencies. Position and timing information originates from the ship’s navigational sensors, typically its GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System), whereas other information, such as the vessel name and VHF call sign, is programmed into the system when installing the equipment, and is transmitted at frequent intervals. The received information can be displayed on a computer screen or a chartplotter.

What is the difference between Class A and Class B MARINE AIS transceivers?

Class A marine AIS transceivers are more expensive than Class B transceivers. Class A transceivers have a higher transmit power and transmissions are sent very frequently, every few seconds. Additionally, information from a Class A transceiver will always be prioritized over information from a Class B transceiver if there is limited room on the AIS channel.

Class B marine AIS devices are compatible with other AIS stations, but operate at a lower power and reporting interval than Class A transceivers. A chart plotter is required to display data when using a Class B device.

The new USCG mandate allows for the use of AIS Class B devices on certain vessels, such as fishing and small passenger vessels that operate outside U.S. Vessel Traffic Service Areas.

How much does marine AIS cost?

Estimated figures from the USCG are that the approximate cost per vessel will be $3,200 for a Class A device and $700 for a Class B device. Recurring operations and maintenance costs will be approximately $250 per device.