ISAF was represented at the recently held Automatic Identification of Ships (AIS) Class B Equipment specification meeting, which took place in Sarasota, Florida between 12 and 16 January 2004.
Robin SJOBERG, former RYA Cruising Manager, made the trip after being briefed by Rob ANDREWS from the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) at the ISAF Secretariat. Robin was also given a detailed analysis of the responses received to the ISAF questionnaire, which had been previously sent out.
Twenty delegates from six countries attended the meeting, representing manufacturers, maritime authorities, lighthouse authorities, the US owner of VHF channel 87 (one of the AIS channels), and for the first time, the user (ISAF). Adil ABBAS, who is the International Compliance Manager for Raymarine, chaired the meeting.
The meeting began by considering outstanding actions from earlier meetings. One of the main decisions being taken was that in all future papers the term GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) would be used rather than GPS. GNSS embraces GPS, Glonass and Galileo.
Robin gave a presentation of the yachtsmen's viewpoint, explaining Rules 5,6 and 19 from the COLREGS to explain why the small craft must be visible on AIS and radar and, using a summary of the replies received by the ISAF questionnaire, he explained the user viewpoint. Most replies, with the notable exception of France and Denmark, thought that AIS would be useful and would be bought by pleasure-boat owners.
Various figures were given for the price, at which equipment would be bought, the average price was around the US$ 500 mark. This figure had already been considered by the Committee to be the maximum entry price, confirmation of which was welcomed.
A summary of Robin's presentation and a matrix of the ISAF replies was decided to be included in the minutes of the meeting. User involvement at this stage in the specification process was positively welcomed and ISAF have been formally accepted onto the distribution list of the Committee.
The meeting then went on to discuss mainly very detailed technical aspects of the Class B sets. Full details are available by following the link below.