Automatic Identification System (AIS)

Automatic Identification System Fact Sheet [PDF - 985 KB]

Highlights:

  • Collateral benefit to Maritime Security
  • Cost Effective/Efficient
  • On-going operational capability
  • Maritime Security Branch Lead
  • Enhanced Maritime Domain Awareness
  • Navigation and Security benefits

Overview

The Automatic Identification System (AIS) is a vessel tracking system that automatically provides updates on a vessel’s position and other relevant ship voyage data to a marine vessel traffic operator. The federal Navigation Safety Regulations came into force on May 10, 2005 and states: “Every ship, other than a fishing vessel, of 500 tons or more that is not engaged on an international voyage shall be fitted with an AIS….”

How It Works

The purpose of the AIS project is to enhance the Coast Guard’s ability in identifying and monitoring maritime traffic to enhance awareness of vessels approaching and operating in Canadian waters. The Canadian Coast Guard is responsible for the construction and operation of the shore-based component of the national AIS network, which consists of the installation of AIS shore-based stations at specific locations to track vessels within 40 to 50 nautical miles of the shore.

The CCGS Terry Fox alongside a Canadian Navy ship during an environmental response exercise

AIS shore infrastructure is integrated within Marine Communication and Traffic Services (MCTS) centres and has resulted in 19 MCTS centres and 113 remote sites fitted with AIS systems. Operating in the Very High Frequency maritime band, AIS is capable of sending such ship information as identification, position, heading, ship length, beam, type, and draught, hazardous cargo information, to other ships as well as to AIS Base Stations operated by a competent authority. It is capable of handling over 2,000 reports per minute and updates as often as every two seconds.

In addition to the management of shipping traffic in general, MCTS centres provide an AIS data feed to other Government Departments such as the Department of National Defence, as well as to the Marine Security Operations Centres, to further contribute to maritime domain awareness and assist in the identification of anomalies within Canada’s waters.