fic,” Stone reports.
But while more and more recreational
boaters may be adopting and adapting to
AIS equipment, the vast majority still don’t
use it and may never find that level of electronic sophistication practical, or even necessary. BoatU.S. reminded the Coast Guard
of these facts as the agency began discussing its plans for an eATON system nearly
18 months ago. In testimony to the U.S.
House of Representatives subcommittee on
Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation,
BoatU.S. president Margaret Podlich said,
“Unlike commercial vessels, recreational
boats are much less likely to have sophisti-
cated electronics needed to access some of
the newer proposed systems, such as virtual
buoys projected on electronic charts. There’s
still a significant need for the tried-and-
true physical ATONs in areas where boat-
ers operate, such as shallow-draft harbors
and channels. Although we understand the
need for budget restrictions,” she continued,
“we emphasize that the removal of many
of these ATONs could lead to higher num-
bers of boaters in distress, loss of property,
and a greater number of search-and-rescue
For the Coast Guard’s part, Stone says his
agency recognizes these important consider-
ations: “To date, we have not replaced any
physical aid to navigation with a virtual aid.
A key goal right now is seeking stakeholder
input on how to best use this technology
within our ATON constellation.” In fact, last
year the agency, along with NOAA and the
Army Corps of Engineers, held 12 “listening
sessions” around the country intended to
bring the maritime community at large up to
speed with the emerging world of eATON,
as well as a host of technological advances in
“e-NAV” and navigation-information deliv-
ery. The two-hour sessions, Stone recalls,
proved as instructive for the Coast Guard as
for the maritime community in each port.
“We found out very quickly that we
AIS coastal broadcast coverage is now complete. The Coast Guard is adding
transmitters at sites (in yellow) on the Great Lakes and inland rivers.
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