In contemporary navigation industry, the fastest and largest growth areas in maritime navigation are AIS. Through AIS transmitter unit on board, your ship will become a beacon that continuously transmits speed, course, and identity. Conversely, having an AIS receiver allows you to track a ship, COG, SOG when it is in the VHF range. This can be very important information to navigate in the navigation routes and channels.

Garmin AIS stands for Automated Identity System. The identity is the MMSI number of the transmitting vessels, the current speed and heading, which are just some of the data you can obtain. The use of AIS intends to help prevent collisions between commercial vessels. Ships, which are over 300GT needs to have an AIS installed as stated by shipping regulations. Commercial boats in US waters having tug over 26 feet and over 65ft require 600 HP.

Vessels having the right equipment configuration can send and receive the AIS signal through a radio frequency with the help of special VHF. It comprises signals like CPA, SOG, COG, and MMSI, you can use an independent AIS unit to plot it or on existing navigation or radar screens. The display shows the AIS target as a long triangle symbol representing a vessel and the same symbol is used for a large or small vessel. The triangle points in the direction in which the target vessel moves. This allows the shipment to control the traffic always knowing what is happening around them at all times.

What are the benefits of AIS for the recreational boater?

Avoid other boats in the water, and it is especially important for our interests to avoid large ones, whether in a shipping channel or not. Large boats have restricted maneuverability and stopping range. Having discussed the Garmin AIS with workers in the maritime industry, including captains and boat pilots, I can tell you that they really like the system.

Here are three reasons for AIS. First, you have poor visibility, you are on a channel and, suddenly, the weather turns rough with rain and winds. Now the ships that were once easily seen from the deck are now invisible. Two, you are in the wide ocean when a ship appears on the horizon. The watch does not look and you do not have wind to start the engine.

This is a true scenario. In this case, your AIS signal would be picked up by the ship’s radar. The signal would sound an alarm on the bridge. Third, AIS allows you to see around the curves. Imagine a channel where you are reaching a curve and a boat is approaching. You cannot see around the curve due to the elevated coastline, but you could pick up the AIS signal on your navigation plotter.

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch, MAIB, has several documented reports of collision between small sailboat and commercial ferry that resulted in the sinking of the sailing vessel and loss of life. The conclusion of the report showed that the sailboat did not appear on the radar and, due to the height of the bridge, the sailboat was not seen with the naked eye. The recommendation was for better radar reflectors so that the sailboat could be seen on the radar of the ferries or in the use of AIS.

Types of AIS:

There are two types of Class A and B AIS systems. Class A is for commercial shipments and is transmitted through two channels and, in general, is fully integrated into the navigation systems of the ships. Class B is for smaller boats. You can choose to receive alone or receive and transmit.

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