Vessel Management

VHF - "AIS" (Automatic identification system) based locating devices for vessel tracking

Security is a key word today and being ”on-line” with all borders and water front is essential for the new world order.

The tracking of fishing vessels has, for several years already, been an aim of authorities in the world. Nothing was successful as the technology for a TDMA based tracking was not mature.

The need for tracking has thus shifted focus to primarily that of security but also Issues such as safety of life at sea and sustainable exploitation and management of marine resources and fishes have taken an important role for the future.

The most obvious step in tightening security is to have knowledge of the movements of all vessels along the coastline and thus incorporating any tracking projects into the security – agenda is important.

This quote envisages a national fishing vessel tracking solution with the objective of achieving a national security agenda.

Identifying vessels
without valid tracking equipment


If stolen or non-national vessels are used they may not have valid tracking equipment on board. This means that they will not appear on any displays of the national tracking system. If the mandatory vessel tracking equipment is easily recognizable and is mounted where it is visible, then other vessels passing such a vessel can alert authorities to non-compliant vessels

Identifying stolen tracking equipment
– Tamper Proofing


There are several ways this can be achieved. Most effective way is to have an electronic smart verification method to ensure if the tracking unit is authorized for use on board the vessel that it is installed. Other checklist methods such as Invalid serial numbers, Correlation of ESN (Electronic Serial Number) which is embedded in the electronics with the MMSI can identify stolen equipment.

Intelligent tracking equipment can transmit in addition encrypted messages showing that the unit is a stolen one so as to not create a suspicion to the “rouges”. This “stolen” alert sent from the vessel alerts authorities of the stolen unit. A database of stolen equipment ESNs and MMSIs can be used to identify if stolen equipment is turned on (installed on another vessel)

Identifying vessels
in not allowed area – Geofencing


It is also very important to know where the vessels are travelling and in case where the vessels are fishing. In the future the topic where a catch was made will become more and more important to protect endangered fish species

Proximity to coast/ports

Furthermore, a vessel with a slow update rate should have the update rate increased when moving closer to land.
E.g. a vessel traveling at 8 knots and reporting every 8` minutes, but which is approaching a port (within 2 miles) should have its update rate increased to every 1 or 2 minutes so that it can be more accurately monitored.

Panic alerting

By simply providing the vessel captain or crew with a panic-button that they can use when being attacked or when they see a suspicious vessel, a huge advantage is gained for security. Now authorities are alerted.

2 Tracking technology

AIS (Class A and B)
AIS is a well-established tracking technology which has come been mandated for SOLAS (large, international) vessels.

  • Makes use of Marine Band VHF for transmission of data
  • Vessels under way normally send position reports every few seconds (dynamic: depending of SOG, ROT)
  • Autonomous reporting
  • Class A is expensive
  • Class B is less expensive
  • Consumes lots of power
  • Requires power on vessel

A low cost Transmitter, either transmitting according Class A regulations with a SOTDMA/PATMDA or according Class B with CSTDMA will be the most appropriate technology to track small vessels.

Which technology seems to be the better one will be detailed afterwards.
A Low-Cost Vessel Tracker must be high reliable and sustain which works on AIS principles. It would be perfect also, if the possibility to set customized frequencies is given is the case that the authorities want to make “closed” user groups.
A must should be that the unit is completely equipped with the VHF (AIS) radio antenna and GPS receiver in one compact package.

  • Main unit mounted 1-2m above sea level
  • Out of the way of fisherman/user/pleasure boat captain, but achievable in case of emergency
  • Antenna height guaranteed – results in long range
  • Equipment is LOW Cost
  • No monthly recurring costs.

No subscription

  • No cost per message.
  • adiated power of at least 3W so that minimum range is guarantied
  • Battery powered where power on boat is not available or only from time to time.
  • Long battery life time if no power from boat
  • Variable reporting rates
  • Autonomous reporting
  • Alert reporting
  • Geofences
  • Track of vessel is stored within the vmsTRACK itself
  • Customized frequencies for Closed Usergroup possible

Tracking for Security


A clear distinction must be made between tracking which is done for management purposes and tracking which is done for security purposes.

  • Concerned with national safety – environmental protection.
  • Need to know minute-to-minute positions of vessels close to ports
  • Need to be able to identify “rogue” vessels and potential threats
  • Need to be able to identify areas in which fishing was made.
  • Need to enable vessel captain and crew to send alerts when threatened

Note that a system designed for security tracking can well used for management – it will provide more than enough data for management, plus some other features