What is AIS (Automatic Identification System ) ??

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The world of AIS (or Automatic Identification System) can often be a confusing one to delve into, with many questions arising such as “what is AIS?”, “why do I need it?”, and “what type of AIS does my ship actually need or have?”

Automatic Identification System (AIS) is an automated tracking system that displays other vessels in the vicinity. It is a broadcast transponder system which operates in the VHF mobile maritime band. Your own ship also shows on the screens of other vessels in the vicinity, provided your vessel is fitted with AIS. If AIS is not fitted or not switched on, there is no exchange of information on ships via AIS. The AIS onboard must be switched on at all times unless the Master deems that it must be turned off for security reasons or anything else. The working mode of AIS is continuous and autonomous.

Why is AIS provided?

It is fitted on ships for identification of ships and navigational marks. However, it is only an aid to navigation and should not be used for collision avoidance. Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) ashore use AIS to identify, locate and monitor vessels. The Panama Canal uses the AIS as well to provide information about rain along the canal as well as wind in the locks.

SOLAS Requirements

The IMO Convention for the Safety Of Life At Sea (SOLAS) Regulation V/19.2.4 requires all vessels of 300 GT and above engaged on international voyages and all passenger ships irrespective of size to carry AIS onboard.

AIS Types

  1. Class A: Mandated for all vessels 300 GT and above engaged on international voyages as well as all passenger ships
  2. Class B: Provides limited functionality and intended for non SOLAS vessels. Primarily used for vessels such as pleasure crafts

AIS operates principally on two dedicated frequencies or VHF channels:

  • AIS 1: Works on 161.975 MHz- Channel 87B (Simplex, for ship to ship)
  • AIS 2: 162.025 MHz- Channel 88B (Duplex for ship to shore)

It uses Self Organizing Time Division Multiple Access (STDMA) technology to meet the high broadcast rate. This frequency has a limitation of line of sight which is about 40 miles or so.


How does AIS work exactly? How do we obtain all this data?

Originally, AIS was used terrestrially, meaning the signal was sent from the boat to land, and had a range of roughly 20 miles (also taking into account the curvature of the earth). As ships began sailing further and further away from land, they began sending the signal to low orbit satellites, which then relayed information back to land. This meant ships could sail as far as they like, and we’d always have peace of mind knowing exactly where they are, and how they’re doing.

The AIS system consists of one VHF transmitter, two VHF TDMA receivers, one VHF DSC receiver, and a standard marine electronic communications link to shipboard display and sensor systems. Position and timing information is normally derived from an integral or external GPS receiver. Other information broadcast by the AIS is electronically obtained from shipboard equipment through standard marine data connections.

Although only one channel is necessary, each station transmits and receives over two radio channels to avoid interference and to avoid communication loss from ships. A position report from one AIS station fits into one of 2250 time slots established every 60 seconds. AIS stations continuously synchronize themselves to each other, to avoid overlap of slot transmissions.

It’s pretty easy to install as well, as AIS is generally integrated with ship bridge systems or multifunctional display, but installing a standalone system is as straightforward as plugging in a couple of cables and switching on the plug.

Data Transmitted

1. Static Information (Every 6 minutes and on request):

  • MMSI number
  • IMO number
  • Name and Call Sign
  • Length and Beam
  • Type of ship
  • Location of position fixing antenna

2. Dynamic Information (Depends on speed and course alteration)

  • Ship’s position with accuracy indication
  • Position time stamp (in UTC)
  • Course Over Ground (COG)

3. Voyage Related Information (Every 6 minutes, when data is amended, or on request)

  • Ship’s draught
  • Type of cargo
  • Destination and ETA
  • Route plan (Waypoints)

4. Short safety related messages

  • Free format text message addressed to one or many destinations or to all stations in the area. This content could be such as buoy missing, ice berg sighting etc

AIS as a surveillance tool

In coastal waters, shore side authorities may establish automated AIS stations to monitor the movement of vessels through the area. Coast stations can also use the AIS channels for shore to ship transmissions, to send information on tides, NTMs and located weather conditions. Coastal stations may use the AIS to monitor the movement of hazardous cargoes and control commercial fishing operations in their waters. AIS may also be used for SAR operations enabling SAR authorities to use AIS information to assess the availability of other vessels in the vicinity of the incident.

AIS as an aid to collision avoidance

AIS contributes significantly to the safety of navigation. All the information that is transmitted and received enhances the effectiveness of navigation and can greatly improve the situational awareness and the decision making process. As an assistant to the OOW, the tracking and monitoring of targets by the AIS as well as determining information on the CPA and TCPA adds great value to the safety of navigation overall. However, the user should not solely rely on the information from the AIS for collision avoidance. AIS is only an additional source of information for the OOW and only supports in the process of navigating the vessel. AIS can never replace the human expertise on bridge!

Limitations of AIS

As with all navigational and/or electronic equipment, the AIS has limitations:

  1. The accuracy of AIS information received is only as good as the accuracy of the AIS information transmitted
  2. Position received on the AIS display might not be referenced to the WGS 84 datum
  3. Over reliance on the AIS can cause complacency on the part of the OOW
  4. Users must be aware that erroneous information might be transmitted by the AIS from another ship
  5. Not all ships are fitted with AIS
  6. The OOW must be aware that AIS, if fitted, might be switched off by a certain vessel thereby negating any information that might have been received from such ship
  7. It would not be prudent for the OOW to assume that the information received from other ships might not be fully accurate and of precision that might be available on own vessel

To sum it up, the AIS only improves the safety of navigation by assisting the OOW/VTS or whatever entity. It’s pretty easy to install as well, as AIS is generally integrated with ship bridge systems or multifunctional display, but installing a standalone system is as straightforward as plugging in a couple of cables and switching on the plug.

ISM Code: Regulatory Update at a glance

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The ISM Code in its mandatory form was adopted in 1993 by resolution A.741(18) and entered into force on 1 July 1998. Since then, revised Guidelines were adopted by resolution A.913(22) in  2001, and subsequently by resolution A.1022(26) , adopted in December 2009, resolution A.1071(28) in December 2013, and revised Guidelines adopted by resolution A.1118(30) with effect from 6 December 2017.


Provisions relevant to SOLAS chapter IX and the ISM Code

  • Revised guidelines for the operational implementation of the International Safety Management (ISM) Code by companies (MSC-MEPC.7/Circ.8),
  • Guidance on the qualifications, training and experience necessary for undertaking the role of the designated person under the provisions of the ISM Code (MSC‑FAL.7/Cir.6),
  • Guidance on near-miss reporting (MSC-MEPC.7/Circ.7), Guidelines on maritime cyber risk management (MSC-FAL.1/Circ.3)
  • Maritime cyber risk management in safety management systems (resolution MSC.428(98)).


MSC 81/17/1 – Independent Export Group Report: Role of the Human Element – Assessment of the impact and effectiveness of implementation of the ISM Code

INTLREG – Expanding our operations at Philippines

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IntlReg is expanding surveyor network at Philippines with authorization  for domestic as well as
International vessels with the approval of  MARINA (Maritime Industry Authority).

Our Services include:
  • Classification & Statutory Surveys
  • ISM Internal & External Audits
  • New Build Services

Contact our Station Manager at Philippines for more details:

Engr. Felicisimo.L, Serato Jr.
Mob: +9178857759
Landline: +6325193568


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The 6th Edition of PHILIPPINES MARINE (PHILMARINE) 2019 co-located with Shipbuild Philippines and Offshore Philippines 2019 is the only specialized maritime, shipbuilding, and offshore event in the Philippines that brings together an international congregation of maritime, shipbuilding, offshore, and their supporting industries gathered in the capital of Manila to showcase the latest developments in the maritime industry, to improve the current shipbuilding technology, and to equipment to help maintain the Philippines’ current status as the world’s #4 largest shipbuilding industry.

Come join us – your most reliable partner for the Maritime World #INTLREG at Booth No. 230 at SMX Convention Centre Manila, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City, Philippines.

Updated marine regulations you need to know about in 2019

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SOLAS damage stability, EU MRV and IMO DCS and MARPOL ANNEX
VI: To prepare and comply with what you need to know.

2019 is a busy year with the adoption of the International Maritime Organization (IMO)
regulation with the forthcoming SOLAS amendments, significant milestones for the data
collection system for fuel oil consumption (DCS) along with the EU regulation on monito
ring, reporting and verification (MRV) and the entry into force of the MARPOL Annex VI
Global Sulphur Limit in January 2020.Here is why these regulations are important to
ship-owners and operators.

Amendments to SOLAS Chapter II-1 on damage stability

Chapter II/1of the SOLAS amendments to harmonize the damage stability of cargo and p
assenger ship came into force in 2009.This made probabilistic damage stability the main
method for calculating the damage stability for passenger vessels and general cargo ves
sels. Once the amendments came into use, the need for a number of revisions became
apparent, so the IMO undertook a major review of the subdivision and damage stability
requirements in Chapter II-1 of SOLAS. Significant changes include, amongst others:

  • Requiring limiting stability information to include trim.
  • Modifying the required subdivision index, R, for passenger ships.
  • Amending the calculation for S factor.
  • Providing limits on the distance between small wells and the keel line unless a
    damage stability check is made and introducing a minimum limit for the vertical
    damage extent. Permitting a butterfly valve at the collision bulkhead on cargo
  • Requiring testing of watertight hatches.
  • Requiring air pipes which terminate in a superstructure to be considered
    unprotected openings unless fitted with a watertight means of closure.
  • Removing the possibility of leaving watertight doors open.

These amendments need to be taken into account in the design of ships contracted from
1 January 2020.

Monitoring and reporting of fuel oil consumption and CO 2 emissions

2019 brings significant milestones in both the EU’s MRV regulation and the IMO’s fuel
oil consumption DCS requirements under MARPOL Annex VI. For EU MRV, the first year
of monitoring ended in 2018 and the first reporting is taking place in early 2019. For
IMO DCS, 2019 is the first monitoring period. In order to comply with the IMO DCS
requirements, each affected existing vessel’s Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan
(SEEMP) will by now have been updated with a new Part II to provide the ship-specific
methodology and processes to be followed for the data collection. New ships will need
to have this upon delivery. After verified data has been reported, it will be transferred to
the IMO Ship Fuel Oil Consumption Database where it will be kept anonymised. This will
help the IMO to produce annual reports and evaluate the need for further technical and
operational measures for enhancing the energy efficiency of international shipping.

For ships subject to the EU MRV regulation, the first monitoring period has now finished
and the collected monitoring reports need to be submitted for verification. For LR
clients, all documentation (monitoring plans and emission report evidence packs),
except emission reports, should be submitted to CO2 Verifier. The regulation requires
that clients submit emission reports directly to THETIS-MRV, which is operated by the
European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA). As the accredited verification body, LR will
then retrieve the reports from THETIS-MRV for verification and upload them to CO2
Verifier along with related LR deliverables.

Global fuel sulphur limit reduction to 0.50% and associated carriage ban

From 1 January 2020, MARPOL Annex VI will require all new and existing ships to
comply with the new global 0.50% sulphur limit using the most appropriate method for
that ship. The options include low sulphur fuels and alternative fuels, or alternative
arrangements such as an exhaust gas cleaning system (also known as scrubbers). The
global limit means that this applies to all areas outside of Emission Control Areas
(ECAs). Unless a ship has an alternative arrangement such as a scrubber, shipowners
and managers will need to consider debunkering any high sulphur fuel oil that is not
used up before 1 January 2020. The IMO has also adopted a requirement to prohibit
ships from carrying fuel oil with a sulphur content above 0.50% if its purpose is for
combustion for propulsion or operations on board, unless the ship has an approved
equivalent arrangement in place. This is to help support full global compliance. Due to
the IMO procedural requirements for amendments to MARPOL, this will enter into force
on 1 March 2020, but it is worth clarifying that this does not change the sulphur limit
reduction date.

Timeline for IMO DCS

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The IMO DCS regulations require companies submit the FOC by End March 2020 (and yearly), but IntlReg as an RO, strongly recommend earlier submission to rectify possible errors/non-compliance and ensure timely issuance of the SoC.

Kindly contact us at or for registration in INTLREG IMO DCS

Be Ready for The Maritime IMO Data Collection System

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It’s time to be prepared for the Maritime IMO Data Collection System.

With the adoption of new mandatory requirements by the regulatory authority of the industry, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), an important milestone on the road to controlling greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping was achieved.

Under the new requirements, ships of 5,000 gross tonnage and above will need to collect data on consumption for each type of fuel oil they use, as well as other additional, specified data including transportation work proxies. These ships account for about 85% of international shipping CO2 emissions. The data collected will provide a firm basis on which future decisions can be taken on additional measures, in addition to those already taken by IMO.

For its 70thSession 24-28 October 2016, the requirements were adopted by the IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) meeting in London. IMO has sent a clear signal that IMO is prepared to build on existing ships energy efficiency technical and operational measures.

From the calendar year 2019, according to the methodology included in the SEEMP, each ship of 5000 gross tonnage and above shall collect the data for that and each subsequent calendar year or portion thereof.

The ship shall aggregate, as appropriate, the data collected in that calendar year or portion
thereof at the end of each calendar year and report to ships flag.

INTLREG IMO DCS service is available to all vessels registered with flag states that have authorized INTLREG to act as RO for the certification of MARPOL Annex VI. Once entry to the online portal is provided, vessel managers or owners for the current calendar year can enter fuel data for the vessel for each trip through the INTLREG website. INTLREG will report the data in the first quarter of 2020 in the IMO format to the respective flag states. Once the vessel’s annual fuel data is reported to the flag and a compliance statement will be issued by flag / RO by May 2020 upon verification; additional fees applicable to the compliance statement.

Please be informed that IMO DCS is a mandatory requirement for ships of 5,000 gross tonnage and above engaged in international voyages. Therefore, Owners and managers of these ships are requested to enroll their vessels for the INTLREG IMO DCS service at the earliest so that compliance can be achieved for issuance statement of compliance in time.

Kindly contact us at or for registration in INTLREG IMO DCS.

INTLREG Certifies Carnival Cruise Lines “Carnival Miracle” with CICA Certification

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INTLREG concluded a successful Crew Accommodation survey for Carnival Cruise Line on behalf of the Panama Administration.

During the inspection of Carnival Miracle, a vessel registered with the Panamanian Flag, each crew member, including the master and full staff, were outstanding in providing assistance in the process. This resulted in a smooth & efficient inspection. During the port stay of a huge Passenger vessel such as this, the crew is extremely busy with multiple activities and tens of other moving parts, yet they managed to find the time to provide continuous support until the inspection was completed. All mandatory areas were checked for the renewal of the Crew Accommodation certification including the Maritime labor (MLC) portion dealing with food under title 3, seating capacities of the mess rooms, bunk capacities, bathroom facility capacities in relationship to the minimum safe manning requirements.

With some exception, every Panamanian flagged vessel of 500 gross tonnage and upward, shall have onboard, at all times, a valid Certificate of Inspection of Crew Accommodation (CICA). CICA was created to guarantee the strict compliance and the effective implementation of national or international Maritime Labor Regulations, related to labor conditions, life, and accommodation of Seafarers on board the vessels registered with the Panamanian Flag.

As an independent organization the International Register of Shipping (INTLREG) continues our ongoing commitment to provide professional services to the maritime industry from the 25 Governmental authorizations in our portfolio.



INTLREG Opens Office in Bahrain

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International Register of Shipping (INTLREG), an organization duly authorized by the Bahrain flag state authorities for certification of ships and other floating facilities registered in Bahrain has opened our office in Bahrain.

Apart from Bahrain, we are authorized by 24 more flag states spread around the world to do classification and statutory certification of ships and other floating facilities. Head Quartered in Miami USA, we have an international network of surveyors around the world.

In addition to classification and statutory certification of ships, our portfolio of services include various third party inspections, naval architectural and marine engineering services, and professional training services.

Message us and find out what we can do for you at

Intlreg EShips Launch with PMA

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We are proud to officially announce the launch of our INTLREG e-Ships software.
INTLREG e-Ships is the result of the knowledge and experience our organization has gained by providing global services to the maritime industry for over 25 years. It brings together all aspects of our organization. It modernizes our organization and provides us with an improved ability to offer an array of maritime services.
A demonstration of INTLREG e-Ships and its features were made to Eng. Yazmin Valles and Eng. Jose Ortega who were both at our head office in Miami, FL USA representing the Panama Maritime Administration. We were happy to have received their blessing for the inauguration of E-ships.
After the demonstration Mrs. Yazmin Valles, General Directorate of the PMA Merchant Marine, stated, “PMA welcomes IRS initiative to implement their new platform “Intl Reg E-Ships” which we strongly believe will reduce the recurrence of human error improving IRS fleet performance and by addition will contribute to maintain Panama Flag’s high-quality standards.”
INTLREG e-Ships will help to achieve maximum efficiency and productivity for delivering faster service to our customers. The client portal keeps you up to date with real time monitoring of your vessels that are registered with us. Viewing the survey status on demand, download e-copies of the certificates, and monitoring the jobs that are currently in progress are a few beneficial features now available.
We continue our ongoing commitment to provide professional services to the maritime industry and the 25 flag administrations that we are approved by. As a provider of classification, certification, verification, training, advisory and other risk management services, we understand the importance of maintaining a high standard for our clients. We act with impartiality and objectivity as a self-regulating agency to the international marine industry.