FORT LAUDERDALE — ACR Electronics, the Fort Lauderdale-based beacon maker, was advising vessel operators who will be required to carry AIS transponders come March to buy and install the safety gear early and avoid the rush to comply.
There will be a big push at the last minute for AIS products and for technicians to install the Class A devices, ACR marketing director Mikele D’Arcangelo said at the company’s booth at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.
Commercial self-propelled vessels 65 feet or larger, towing vessels 26 feet or larger, vessels certified to carry more than 150 passengers, dredges operating near shipping channels and vessels carrying hazardous materials must comply with the new Coast Guard requirement.
“If you own a boat 65 feet or larger and you charter it out, you’ll be required to have AIS,” D‘Arcangelo said.
AIS is a VHF-based tracking system that enables vessels to identify, locate and communicate with each other electronically to avoid collisions. AIS enables skippers to “see” other vessels in the vicinity on their chart plotters and receive information about them — their MMSI identification numbers, latitude and longitude, speed, whether they’re at anchor or underway, the rate of turning, heading, radio call sign, the types and sizes of the vessels and their destination.
Dredges, vessels certified to carry fewer than 150 passengers that do not operate in a Vessel Traffic Service area or at speeds exceeding 14 knots and commercial fishing vessels may use Class B AIS, which — though less powerful than a Class A transponder — is less costly at about $600.
ACR has set up a website, www.AISmandate.com, to guide mariners through the regulation.
“We had a hard time figuring out the regulation, so we knew our customers would, too,” he said.