Do you follow USCG and IMO guidance on AIS programming?
While sailing through the English Channel, my ship was recently hailed by two passing ships on VHF radio because they did not know what LoCodes are and did not recognize the IMO format showing port of origination AND port of destination. Our AIS was correctly programmed… evidently, still an uncommon occurrence at sea.
The USCG AIS Encoding Guide states:
"AIS is a valuable navigation safety radio communication tool. However, its effectiveness is undermined by the broadcast of inaccurate, improper or outdated data. Users are reminded that U.S. regulations (33 CFR 164.46) require that it be maintained in effective operating condition, which includes accurate input and upkeep of all AIS data parameters.
Continual failure to do so may prompt civil penalty action. To avoid penalties, always ensure your AIS is up-to-date and encoded according to this Guide."
Very few vessels actually follow the USCG guidance and IMO/SOLAS guidance on this. My read is that the guidance is incorporated into 33CFR by reference, and is therefore required. Any thoughts on this by anyone who really knows?
Other mariners I have sailed with feel strongly that ONLY the Destination should be entered, and NOT the port of origin and that LoCodes are too confusing so dont use them until forced to do so.
I see it as an issue that includes the important needs of VTS operators who use port of origination AND destination data to accurately identify, track, and distinguish vessels transiting thier areas.
So, back to my question… do you use locodes and encode your AIS like this “US GAL>MX ATM”, or like this “Altamira MX”?