The Coast Guard of the United States of America announced Friday that it has expanded the scope of required Automatic Identification System (AIS) carriage for commercial vessels beyond Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) areas to include all navigable waters of the USA, and further has required that additional commercial vessels install and use AIS. The new rules for mandatory AIS carriage should not affect any recreational small boat user. Here are some excerpts of the announcement citing the new carriage requirements:
In paragraph in 33 CFR 164.46:
(b)(1) AIS Class A device. The following vessels must have on board a properly installed, operational Coast Guard type-approved AIS Class A device:
--(i) A self-propelled vessel of 65 feet or more in length, engaged in commercial service;
--(ii) A towing vessel of 26 feet or more in length and more than 600 horsepower, engaged in commercial service;
--(iii) A vessel that is certificated to carry more than 150 passengers;
--(iv) A self-propelled vessel engaged in dredging operations in or near a commercial channel or shipping fairway in a manner likely to restrict or affect navigation of other vessels;
--(v) A self-propelled vessel engaged in the movement of (A) Certain dangerous cargo as defined in subpart C of part 160 of this chapter, or (B) Flammable or combustible liquid cargo in bulk that is listed in 46 CFR 30.25-1, Table 30.25-1
(b)(2) AIS Class B device. Use of a U.S. Coast Guard type-approved AIS Class B device in lieu of an AIS Class A device is permissible on the following vessels if they are not subject to pilotage by other than the vessel Master or crew:
--(i) Fishing industry vessels;
--(ii) Vessels identified in paragraph (b)(1)(i) of this section that are certificated to carry less than 150 passengers, and that—(A) Do not operate in a VTS or VMRS area defined in Table 161.12(c) of § 161.12 of this chapter, and (B) Do not operate at speeds in excess of 14 knots; and
--(iii) Vessels identified in paragraph (b)(1)(iv) of this section engaged in dredging operations.
(c) SOLAS provisions. The following self-propelled vessels must comply with International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), as amended, Chapter V, regulation 18.104.22.168 (Positioning System), 19.2.4 (AIS Class A), and 22.214.171.124 (Transmitting Heading Device) or 126.96.36.199 (Gyro Compass) as applicable (Incorporated by reference, see § 164.03):
--(1) A vessel of 300 gross tonnage or more, on an international voyage;
--(2) A vessel of 150 gross tonnage or more, when carrying more than 12 passengers on an international voyage.
We...have amended § 164.46(b)(2) to clearly prescribe the use of U.S. Coast Guard type-approved AIS Class B devices in lieu of Class A devices on the following vessels if they are not subject to pilotage:
--fishing industry vessels (i.e., any vessel engaged in the fishing trade),
--vessels engaged in dredging operations, and
--those vessels certificated to carry less than 150 passengers that do not operate in a Coast Guard [Vessel Traffic Service] or [Vessel Movement Reporting System], and that are not capable of speeds in excess of 14 knots.
Class B users operating in excess of 14 knots travel a much farther distance between required position reports than Class A users would at any speed. Because of this time delay between reports, and as brought to our attention by some commenters, when viewed on a navigation display, fast-moving vessels using Class B devices would appear to jump from position to position, in contrast to a more fluid display of vessels using Class A devices. While there may be ways to mitigate these phenomena, such as dead reckoning Class B vessels between their 30-second position reports, we believe that doing so would reduce confidence in AIS data. Therefore, we adopted a 14-knot threshold that [the Navigation Safety Advisory Council] included as a threshold for one of its recommendations. But we did not, as NAVSAC had recommended, extend this option to all vessels that travel only under 14 knots because we anticipate that some of these vessels (e.g., vessels towing cargo) will need to use application specific messaging for the safe navigation of the vessel and such messaging is not permitted via AIS Class B (e.g., cargo or voyage specific reporting to Coast Guard Sectors or Army Corp of Engineers lock masters).
The complete announcement with many more details and numerous hypertext links to more information can be found at