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Equipment and Systems
by Scott Peterson | Published  03/09/2005 | Technical Center
MarEx Announces New AIS Installation

Earlier this year, The Marine Exchange of Southern California awarded Tideland Maritime Systems (TMS) with the contract to supply an AIS Shore Station as an additional information and security system for the jointly-operated Marine Exchange – USCG Vessel Traffic System (VTS-LA/LB) located at the entrance to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in San Pedro, California. The AIS equipment was installed in December, and is currently being “tweaked and tested” for optimum performance standards before “going on line” in January.

VTS Los Angeles - Long Beach (VTS-LA/LB) facilitates the safe, secure, and efficient movement of vessels arriving and departing at America’s largest and most active intermodal cargo seaport complex. VTS-LA/LB facilitates over 28,000 deep-water and coastal vessels transits each year of its AOR (“Area of Responsibility”) – extending 25 nautical miles to seaward from Point Fermin -- which encompasses most of Santa Monica Bay, all of Santa Catalina Island, the TSS “sea lanes” to the south, and Newport Bay. All “covered vessels” must check in with VTS-LA/LB when within that AOR, and must abide by the rules, regulations, and procedures that govern their activities and navigation therein. 

In addition to handling all the ship traffic at LA/LB Harbor, VTS-LA/LB also monitors and facilitates the tanker traffic moving in and out of the off-shore moorings at the ChevronTexaco El Segundo refinery in Santa Monica May, as well as the U.S. Navy ships moving in and out of Anaheim Bay, location of the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Center. 

Automatic Identification System (AIS) is a vessel- and shore-based “transponder” system originally invented to aid ocean going SOLAS vessels in collision avoidance. A vessel outfitted with AIS will automatically and continuously transmit and receive critical static and dynamic data such as: vessel name, call sign, position, course, and speed via two internationally designated VHF frequencies. This vessel-specific data is processed both onboard and onshore to give a navigator, VTS operator, or coastal authority, real time information on surrounding vessel movements and to raise an alarm when a collision is predicted or a security parameter is breached.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has mandated AIS as a safety and navigation aid for commercial vessels on international voyages. Additionally, the US Department of Homeland Security will require AIS as a monitoring device for most commercial vessels operating within US territorial waters. The AIS Shore Station supplied by TMS is manufactured to meet the IMO recommendations for AIS Shore Stations as developed by the International Association of Lighthouse Authorities (IALA). TMS has supplied AIS Shore Station networks in the United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, Brazil, South Africa and Taiwan.

Captain Manny Aschemeyer, Executive Director of the Marine Exchange and VTS-LA/LB, states that “Tideland Maritime Systems’ AIS Shore Station, interfaced with our state-of-the-art NorControl IT VTS-5060 vessel tracking system, gives our unique ‘partnership VTS’ leading-edge technology that will automatically provide us with the vessel information that we used to gather by manual radio calls and radar contacts. This new equipment and system will allow our Vessel Traffic Specialists more time to concentrate on the increasing vessel traffic demands anticipated for LA/LB Harbor in the future -- and to address the new scope of duties and responsibilities required for enhanced homeland defense and port security.”

USCG Captain Peter Neffenger, Captain-of-the-Port and Commanding Officer of the Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Office and Group for Southern California, states that “The Marine Exchange’s newly installed AIS-based VTS system provides the USCG -- and other Federal, State and Local Government Agencies -- with the information we need to identify vessels that pose a security risk, thereby helping us in protecting our ports and waterways, and in supporting our nation’s vital sea trade.”

Tideland Maritime Systems is a division of Tideland Signal Corporation specializing in VTS and AIS solutions for port and coastal authorities worldwide. Tideland Signal Corporation is a privately owned and operated marine Aids to Navigation business headquartered in Houston, Texas, with 45 years of experience. TMS recently formed a partnership with NorControl IT to assist in the sales of their VTS systems. NorControl IT of Horten, Norway, are manufacturers of the world’s most advanced VTS systems and have been in business for over 30 years.

For additional information regarding Tideland Maritime Systems’ VTS and AIS solutions, please contact Clive Quickenden at +1 (713) 681-6101, cwq@tidelandsignal.com. And for information about the Marine Exchange of Southern California, and the unique “partnership” VTS for LA/LB Harbor, contact Capt. Dick McKenna at 310-519-3126 (rbm@mxsocal.org). Or check out their web site at www.mxsocal.org (go to “Vessel Traffic Service” menu).