USCG issues AIS safety warning after towboat collision
The U.S. Coast Guard released a safety warning emphasizing the importance of correct data entry and presentation of the Automatic Identification System (AIS) to secure navigation following a recent towboat crash on the Mississippi River.
While the inquiry into this accident is not yet complete, the Coast Guard said the crash reveals the dangers caused by incorrect AIS records, which will encourage owners and operators to review and upgrade their practices to prevent similar incidents.
Two towing vessels reached a bend in the Mississippi River before sunrise.
Neither vessel transmitted the complete length of their tow overall to other AIS users. The AIS transmission of the first vessel showed its length at 72 feet but the vessel's total length and two-barge tow was 672 feet. The AIS broadcast of the second vessel showed the length at 200 feet but the vessel's overall length and its tow of 40 barges was 1,600 feet.
The operators did not have a complete picture of the pending moving situation without the details about the overall duration of the other vessel and its tow. When the boats rounded the curve and made their curves, they collided with multiple deaths causing the downbound towing vessel to capsize and sink.
AIS is a valuable tool that transmits information about critical vessels to other vessels on waterways. It is one of many important tools used to provide a clear picture for vessel operators of potential upcoming vessel passing situations , particularly on waterways with bends, bridges or other visual obstructions.
The Coast Guard said it highly advises that vessel owners and operators use the AIS Encoding Guide to ensure correct and up-to - date information is inserted into the AIS including, though not limited to, the vessel's total measurements and tow.
Maritime Business World