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Do commercial vessels ignore Class B AIS?

Posted by Doug Miller on 4/30/2017 to AIS News
We are often asked, do commercial vessels filter out Class B AIS transmissions or at least ignore them if they see them? We can't say for all vessels but here is an article that talks about the value of all AIS for one group fast ferries in our area - the Victoria Clippers.
Three Sheets Northwest published a great article this month titled "View from the helm: An enlightening and entertaining ride on the Victoria Clipper". This article talks about what its like to ride in the bridge of one of our local 30-knot Victoria Clipper fast ferries. The article includes lots of information about how professional boat captains deal with vessel traffic on the water, but the answer to one question is worth highlighting here since we focus on AIS. Here is the quote from the story:

"One piece of modern equipment that has become very helpful for both commercial and recreational boaters is AIS. When I asked how much they use it when tracking recreational boats, the answer was simple. “A lot. It gives us a definitive way to see you.” With AIS information on screen, the crew could see what kind of vessel they were coming upon, how fast it was going and at what heading — all great data for anyone looking. So if you’re wavering on getting an AIS, know that people actually are paying attention."

If you're wondering whether AIS has value for collision avoidance and vessel awareness with commercial traffic, here is at least one good endorsement for why you should have AIS.

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Gregg Brickner
Date: 6/29/2017
On our transit from Kauai to the San Juans in 2015, when we did not broadcast AIS, we had a nice conversation with a very large and fast freighter heading into LA. He said first, our radar reflector "lit up" their radar ten miles out. Ours is a mast mounted plastic pod with a bunch of chaff inside. Don't know the brand, but it's a pretty big piece of gear sitting up there. Second, he STRONGLY recommended we install a Class B transponder. Because, as he said, hitting a sailboat is his worst nightmare. Of course, we had to reply that being hit by a freighter was our worst nightmare! After a long chuckle on both our parts, we signed off and went our ways. Moral of story - install an AIS transponder!

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