REPORTS | NEWS FROM THE WORLD OF AMERICAN BOATING EDITED BY RYCK LYDECKER Boat U.S.
PHOTO: BILLY BLACK
WANT TO KEEP TRACK OF THE BIG SHIPS coming and going in the world’s harbors and coastal waters? You can, thanks to the Internet and Automatic Identification System (AIS), now required on all commercial vessels. Go to www.marinetraffic.
com, zero in on where your curiosity leads on a world map, then mouse
on over to one of the color-coded vessel icons displayed. Not only will it
call up the name and type of vessel, it will show national flag and near-real-time coordinates. Click on that and in many cases you get a window
with a picture of the vessel, its vital statistics, destination, and its ETA.
While international maritime agreement mandates AIS on com-
mercial vessels over 300 gross tons, private recreational vessels may
equip with transmitters voluntarily and will show up on the system
under the purple “Yachts & Others” icon. The University of the Aegean
in Syros, Greece, hosts the system, described as “an academic, open,
community-based project.” The information about ship movements and
ports around the world that have AIS networks is free, but the system
also offers special paid-subscriber services such as tracking “My Fleet.”
You can even elect to display text in one of 29 languages. — R.L.
RUN WITH THE BIG BOATS —
VIRTUALLY, THAT IS
FEBRUARY | MARCH 2012