AIS transponders

Automatic identification systems (AISs) are designed to be capable of providing information about the ship to other ships and to coastal authorities automatically.

Regulations for carriage of AIS
Maritime security - AIS ship data

Regulations for carriage of AIS

Regulation 19 of SOLAS Chapter V - Carriage requirements for shipborne navigational systems and equipment - sets out navigational equipment to be carried on board ships, according to ship type. In 2000, IMO adopted a new requirement (as part of a revised new chapter V) for all ships to carry automatic identification systems (AISs) capable of providing information about the ship to other ships and to coastal authorities automatically.

The regulation requires AIS to be fitted aboard all ships of 300 gross tonnage and upwards engaged on international voyages, cargo ships of 500 gross tonnage and upwards not engaged on international voyages and all passenger ships irrespective of size. The requirement became effective for all ships by 31 December 2004.

Ships fitted with AIS shall maintain AIS in operation at all times except where international agreements, rules or standards provide for the protection of navigational information.

A flag State may exempt ships from carrying AISs when ships will be taken permanently out of service within two years after the implementation date. Performance standards for AIS were adopted in 1998.

The regulation requires that AIS shall:

  • provide information - including the ship's identity, type, position, course, speed, navigational status and other safety-related information - automatically to appropriately equipped shore stations, other ships and aircraft;
  • receive automatically such information from similarly fitted ships; monitor and track ships;
  • exchange data with shore-based facilities.

The regulation applies to ships built on or after 1 July 2002 and to ships engaged on international voyages constructed before 1 July 2002, according to the following timetable:

  • passenger ships, not later than 1 July 2003;
  • tankers, not later than the first survey for safety equipment on or after 1 July 2003;
  • ships, other than passenger ships and tankers, of 50,000 gross tonnage and upwards, not later than 1 July 2004.

An amendment adopted by the Diplomatic Conference on Maritime Security in December 2002 states that, additionally, ships of 300 gross tonnage and upwards but less than 50,000 gross tonnage, are required to fit AIS not later than the first safety equipment survey after 1 July 2004 or by 31 December 2004, whichever occurs earlier. (The original regulation adopted in 2000 exempted these vessels.)

Maritime security - AIS ship data
At its79th session in December 2004, the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) agreed that, in relation to the issue of freely available automatic information system (AIS)-generated ship data on the world-wide web, the publication on the world-wide web or elsewhere of AIS data transmitted by ships could be detrimental to the safety and security of ships and port facilities and was undermining the efforts of the Organization and its Member States to enhance the safety of navigation and security in the international maritime transport sector.

The Committee condemned the regrettable publication on the world-wide web, or elsewhere, of AIS data transmitted by ships and urged Member Governments, subject to the provisions of their national laws, to discourage those who make available AIS data to others for publication on the world-wide web, or elsewhere from doing so.

In addition, the Committee condemned those who irresponsibly publish AIS data transmitted by ships on the world-wide web, or elsewhere, particularly if they offer services to the shipping and port industries.

Further information

SN/Circ.227 Guidelines for the installation of a Shipborne Automatic Identification System (AIS)

Resolution A.917(22) Guidelines for the onboard operational use of shipborne automatic identification systems (AIS) - available from your national maritime Administration or purchase Assembly resolutions from IMO Publications.

Resolution MSC.74(69) includes Recommendation on Performance Standards for Universal Automatic Identification System (AIS) available from your national maritime Administration