• Automatic Identification System ("AIS") Update
  • October 21, 2003
  • Law Firm: Blank Rome LLP - Philadelphia Office
  • New Development

    The Coast Guard has extended the comment period until January 5, 2004, on a proposed expansion of the Automatic Identification System ("AIS") carriage requirements to vessels operating on certain navigable waters of the United States that are not on international voyages. In addition, the Coast Guard has revised compliance dates for the mandatory AIS carriage requirements imposed on domestic vessels transiting a Vessel Traffic Service ("VTS") area.

    Summary

    A September 26, 2003, Notice extends the comment period on the proposed expansion of AIS carriage requirements from September 29, 2003 to January 5, 2004. 68 Fed. Reg. 55643 (Sept. 26, 2003). According to the Coast Guard, this extension will allow commenters time to review the related final rulemaking on AIS carriage requirements, expected to be issued this week, before submitting comments on the proposed expanded AIS carriage requirements (originally proposed at 68 Fed. Reg. 39369 (July 1, 2003).

    The Coast Guard has also announced three public meetings regarding this Notice, which are to be held on November 5 (New Orleans), November 13 (New Bedford, MA), and December 5 (Seattle). The Coast Guard has also made a few alterations to the eight questions listed in the July 1, 2003, Notice. These alterations are minor, but serve to clarify and/or broaden the scope of the questions posed.

    Finally, on September 29, 2003, the Coast Guard issued a Policy Statement modifying compliance dates contained in the July 1, 2003 interim rule (68 Fed. Reg. 39353). In accordance with the Policy Statement, all vessel VTS users, not on an international voyage, and subject to the AIS provisions of 33 C.F.R. ยง 164.46(b) must now be in compliance with that part's requirements on December 31, 2004. This deadline replaces previous compliance dates (July 1, 2003, or December 31, 2003) for operators in certain VTS areas - other operators are unaffected, as December 31, 2004 was their original compliance date.

    Conclusion and Recommendations

    Owners and operators that may be subject to these expanded AIS requirements should review the revised questions in the September 26, 2003, Notice and submit comments as appropriate. Commenters should wait to review the final rulemaking on AIS carriage requirements (expected in late October) before submitting their comments. VTS users should make note of the revised December 31, 2004, compliance date for implementation of the recent AIS interim rule as it may impact operational deadlines depending on the geographic area of operation.