The world’s first space-based automatic identification system or AIS to track merchant ships on a real-time basis will be built and operated jointly by India and France, the French space agency (centre national d’études spatiales or the National Centre for Space Studies (CNES) has said.
CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall and K Sivan, Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), signed an agreement on Thursday to start development and production of a constellation of satellites on which studies have been underway for more than a year.
The pact between the space agencies of the two countries on the production of a constellation of satellites was signed during the state visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to France .
The constellation carrying telecommunications (AIS), radar and optical remote-sensing instruments is capable of monitoring ships in the Indian Ocean, CNES said in a statement.
“The system will cover a wide belt around the globe, benefiting a broad range of French economic interests. With a revisit capability making it possible to task acquisitions several times a day, it will also be able to detect oil slicks and trace their origin,” CNES said.
The International Maritime Organization’s International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) requires AIS to be fitted aboard all ships of 300 gross tonnage and upwards engaged on international voyages, cargo ships of 500 gross tonnage and upwards not engaged on international voyages and all passenger ships irrespective of size. The requirement took effect on December 31, 2004.
AIS are designed to provide information about a ship to other ships and to coastal authorities automatically.
India has installed a Long-Range Identification and Tracking system (LRIT) for ships as well as a terrestrial-based AIS, but their range and functionality is limited, a government official said.
LRIT can give the position of a ship every six hours or at least four times a day while the terrestrial-based AIS has a coverage range of 40 nautical miles.
The satellite-based AIS will significantly boost India’s coastal surveillance mechanism and maritime security, the official said.―The Hindu Business Line