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Mobile AIS Helps Port Aransas Rebound After Harvey

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Mobile AIS

The Coast Guard is using mobile automatic identification system units to broadcast electronic aids to navigation in the water surrounding Port Aransas, Texas. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Steve Strohmaier.


Vessel traffic is moving through the waters of Port Aransas, Texas, again thanks to electronic aids to navigation (eATONs) broadcast by the Coast Guard.

The Navigation Technology and Risk Management Division of the Office of Navigation Systems is using a mobile Automatic Identification System (AIS) unit, or “go-kit,” developed at the Coast Guard Research and Development Center to replace 13 lost or damaged buoys and beacons with electronic replacements. The eATONs are broadcast via radio signal and appear on the navigation screens of any ship that has an AIS unit connected to its navigation systems.

The Nationwide Automatic Identification System (NAIS) can also transmit eATONs, but that system was inoperable after the storm. “These go-kits can be used in remote locations where NAIS towers are not available as well as in locations where the NAIS towers are not up and running due to limited or no power,” said RDC Program Manager Scott Fields. The electronic markers will remain in place until new navigational aids can be installed.

The temporary eATONs allowed Port Aransas to reopen to vessel traffic several days ahead of schedule.

"The RDC will continue to apply its resources toward technological solutions that improve overall recovery efforts,” Fields said.

For more information: Research, Development, Test and Evaluation program page and Nationwide Automatic Identification System program page