The International Conference on Maritime Security concluded
last week (December 9 and 10, 2002) at the International Maritime Organization
(IMO). The Conference adopted a number of revisions to the Safety of Life at Sea
(SOLAS) Convention. Of particular interest is the status of the implementation date
for Automatic Identification Systems (AIS).
The conference moved forward the deadline for fitting of AIS on ships engaged in
international voyages. Now all such ships over 300 tons and not required to fit AIS
at an earlier date, will have to fit AIS at the first safety equipment survey after 1 July
2004 , but in any case not later than 31 December 2004 . Deadlines for these ships
had been as late as 1 July 2007 . The deadline for ships not engaged in
international voyages remains at 1 July 2008 , but national authorities can move this date
forward in their own waters. In fact, the USCG has (see below).
In North America , there have been two recent developments on AIS -
On 25 November 2002 , President George Bush signed the Maritime Transportation Security
Act of 2002. This act requires the following vessels to be fitted with AIS when
operating in the navigable waters of the United States :
1. Self-propelled commercial vessels
more than 65 ft (19.8 m) in length
2. Vessels carrying more than an unspecified number of passengers for
hire (the number will be established by the Coast Guard through regulation)
3. Towing vessels more than 25 ft (7.6 m) in length and more than 600
4. Other vessels as may be determined by the Coast Guard through
The act applies to
1. Vessels built on or after 1 January 2003
2. All SOLAS passenger ships, and all tankers and towing vessels moving
a tank vessel on or after 1 July 2003
3. All other affected vessels on or after 1 December 2004
Note that this advances the SOLAS AIS requirement for tankers to 1 July 2003 , instead of
the date of the first survey after 1 July 2003 , if they operate in U.S. navigable waters
(not just U.S. registered vessels).
St. Lawrence Seaway
The U.S. and Canadian Corporations that operate the St. Lawrence Seaway published a Notice
of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on 27 November 2002 , proposing that ships using the St.
Lawrence Seaway system, be required to be fitted with AIS from the beginning of the 2003
navigation season (scheduled for 25 March 2003 ). Affected vessels would be those
that require pre-clearance and have a 300 gross tonnage or greater, have an Length Over
All (LOA) over 20 meters, or carry more than 50 passengers for hire, as well as dredges
and floating plants and towing vessels over 8 meters in length. Comments on the
proposal will be accepted until 27 January 2003 .
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