My previous blog on AIS (“AIS overkill”) generated a couple of responses. I talked to an official from a large inland barge operator who said they have AIS on all their towboats.
He said they utilize AIS for boat positioning and it also provides such details as the closest point of approach and time to approach. These, he said, are very useful and increased safety and situational awareness. He added that the cost of AIS was not as “onerous” as I suggested in my blog. (I said around $2,000 a pop, which is what some operators told us. A quick check of the Furuno Web site showed prices of $1,100 for the FA30 model, $1,800 for the FA50 and $4,495 for the FA150.)
In addition, he added, “AIS, in terms of knowing where everyone is and where they really are, is very important.”
All of these are good points, and I agree with him and others who find AIS useful and worth the money for these and other reasons. However, the point of my blog was that AIS might not be as useful for everyone.
While the advantages may be more clear for an operator of a fleet of tugs or towboats, it is less so for the small passenger vessel operator who has one or two boats that operate on a short route in a protected area that is essentially devoid of commercial traffic. And, for small operators, even $1,000 a pop can be a lot of money.
Be sure to read the article on AIS in the February issue of WorkBoat.