AMSA’s Vessel Tracking Programme – a focus for safety and protection of the environment



Jillian Carson-Jackson, Manager, Vessel Tracking, Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), Australia



The realities of moder n shipping, with larger and less manoeuvrable ships, localised areas of traffic congestion, varied hazardous cargoes, environmental and security concerns has pressured competent authorities to take sophisticated measures to reduce risks. In recent years there have been significant developments in maritime technology, including the introduction of the Automatic Identification System (AIS) and the concept of ‘e-navigation.’ The Australian Maritime Safety Authority functions under the AMSA Act of 1990 (as amended) and has at its core safety of navigation, the provision of search and rescue services and protection of the environment.

Responding to the need to ensure safe and efficient navigation, AMSA has recognised that various sensors used to assist in the monitoring of Vessels through the existing Australian Reporting System (AUSREP) and the joint AMSA/Mar itime Safety Queensland ReefVTS are developing at a rapid pace. The definition of Maritime Domain Awareness – MDA – provides indication of the key concerns when looking at the maritime arena: Maritime Domain Awareness – The effective understanding of any activity associated with the maritime environment that could impact on the security, safety, economy or environment.

Within AMSA, as within many organisations, the increased demand for vessel location information, and its integration with other information, is highlighted in various elements ranging from promoting the use of the Automatic Identification System (AIS) to coordinating information sharing measures. The aspects of ‘safety’ and ‘environment’ within the definition of MDA are directly linked to the role of AMSA. To respond to the many developments, and provide a cohesive and coordinated approach to the use of vessel track data for safety and protection of the environment, AMSA has been moving forward on a number of Vessel Tracking aspects, including the development of a section within Maritime Standards Division – Vessel Tracking.

Developments in Vessel Tracking

2005 – 2006 was a very active time for vessel tracking/vessel monitoring. In November 2005, IALA held a seminar on ‘Global Tracking’ as a follow-up to the 2004 seminar ‘Tracking all the Way?’, and in May 2006 the IMO adopted an amendment to SOLAS Chapter V introducing new obligations for ships regarding Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT), which will come into force on 1 January 2008. These aspects occur red in addition to the ongoing development of AIS. The regional implementation of vessel tracking in the Baltic Sea, through the Helsinki Commission (HELCOM) framework, and other regional developments for information sharing, led to questions at the international level on the legalities of infor mation shar ing. ‘AIS Live’ ( forced inter national discussion, and
brought the overall concept of information sharing and data management to the forefront.

At the national level in Australia, concern over security has led to the development of the Australian Maritime Identification System (AMIS) – a system that will be designed specifically to protect Australia from the seven defined maritime threats. At the State and port level, interest has been shown in the provision of AIS Base Stations and AIS aids to navigation (AtoN). The acceptance of international testing standards for AIS Class BCSTDMA has led AMSA and some States and Ports to investigate possible benefits in the carriage of AIS Class B on work and charter craft

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