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AIS - Automatic Identification System

What is AIS ?

AIS (Automatic Identification System) is initially intended to help ships avoid collisions, as well as assisting port authorities to better control sea traffic. AIS transponders on board vessels include a GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver, which collects position and movement details. It includes also a VHF transmitter, which transmits periodically this information on two VHF channels (frequencies 161.975 MHz and 162.025 MHz – old VHF channels 87 & 88) and make this data available to the public domain. Other vessels or base stations are able to receive this information, process it using special software and display vessels locations on a chart plotter or computer.

As of December 2004, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) requires all vessels over 299GT to carry an AIS transponder on board, which transmits their position, speed and course, along with some other static information, such as vessel’s name, dimensions and voyage details.

The US Coast Guard has significantly widened the number of vessels required to operate an AIS. This affects commercial vessels larger than 65 feet as well as certain towing and passenger vessels. The new rules (CFR 164.46) require these vessels to have USCG approved AIS transponders installed by March 2016.


More information about AIS can be found on the US Coast Guard Navigation Center website, AIS Requirements or in the wikipedia, see also links to the right.





Live Map

Below is a live map provided by MarineTraffic. MEOB operates a receiving station as part of the AIS network. Those are actual vessels within range of our antenna located here in Nags Head, North Carolina.

AIS Vendors

ACR ~ Artex
Comar Systems AIS Units
Digital Yacht AIS Units
Furuno AIS Units
Garmin AIS Units
icom marine ais units
Si-tex AIS Units
vesper AIS Units


US Coast Guard AIS Information
USCG Navigation Center
Wikipedia AIS Definition

AIS Tracking

Marine Traffic AIS Tracking
Maritime Information Systems
Vessel Finder - AIS Vessel Tracking
VesselTracker - AIS Vessel Tracking
VT Explorer - AIS Vessel Tracking