MCA to trial shore-based AIS network
By Hugh O'Mahony
Release Date: Tuesday May 06 2003
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THE UK's Maritime and Coastguard Agency has contracted
Norcontrol IT to trial a shore-based Automated Information System base station
network in line with the European Commission's Vessel Traffic Monitoring Directive
and related EU legislation. The engineering study expands the Channel Navigation
Information Service System recently installed at the Dover Maritime Rescue Co-ordination
Three base stations at Margate, Hastings and Dover will be used to monitor AIS activity in the Dover Strait traffic separation scheme.
Norcontrol IT UK manager Steve Guest said that the proportion of vessels calling at UK ports featuring AIS amounted to "single percentage figures," but noted that all Solas vessels would be required to carry AIS equipment by December 2004.
The Dover Strait trial will be used to monitor activity and the type of information being broadcast over AIS. "We will be delivering web-based applications that provide a seamless connection to the AIS Database so that data on all AIS tracks shall be automatically captured," said Mr Guest, "collected and sorted according to inherent logic built into the applications".
Although the UK is substantially behind some EU member states notably Sweden, in deploying shore-based AIS monitoring, the EC directive on traffic monitoring only calls on competent authorities to introduce an AIS network, being non-specific about time scale or the extent of the required scheme.
Thus, MCA will use the 18 month trial to decide on the desired location of AIS monitoring stations all around the UK coastline, focusing on what Mr Guest termed "strategic choke points."
Trial project manager Dan Aldridge the said: "We anticipate up to 80% of the UK's AIS traffic will be tracked and ten maritime rescue centres will have access to positional and static data related to the shipping in their region"
Mr Guest said it would be up to individual port authorities to decide whether shore-base AIS monitoring facilities are warranted, however.
Broad welcome for Dover VTMIS base
Release Date: Wednesday May 14 2003
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DOVER'S new Vessel Traffic Management Information
System is now operational following Monday's opening ceremony with transport secretary
Alastair Darling, writes David Osler.
VTMIS will provide the exact position of the hundreds
of vessels passing through the Dover Strait every day.
Chief coastguard John Astbury hailed the system as
one of the most sophisticated of its kind anywhere in the world.
It will go a long way to preventing accidents and
improving safety in the Channel, he maintained.
Mr Darling added that VTMIS would play an important
part in the work of Britain's coastguards.
"We have got a good safety record but that is something
we want to build upon and we want to make sure we can do even better, so this
facility is absolutely vital to achieving that," he insisted.
A spokesman for Numast said that the British officers'
union was broadly supportive of the system, but felt that there were still underlying
problems with the Channel's traffic separation scheme that should be addressed.