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All foreign yachts in Phuket ‘will have to have AIS system’

PHUKET: From October 1 all foreign-registered boats coming into or staying in Thai waters will be required to have Automatic Identification System (AIS) equipment installed.

Saran Mitrarat

Thursday 4 September 2014, 06:58PM

The AIS systems on boats will be monitored from the Vessel Traffic Management Centre on Chalong Pier.
The AIS systems on boats will be monitored from the Vessel Traffic Management Centre on Chalong Pier.

The regulation is being introduced after the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) commanded the Third Naval Area Command to organise boats and ships along the Andaman Coast and around islands offshore, from Ranong down to Satun.

The new regulation was announced in a Provincial Announcement signed by Governor Maitri Inthusut and released today (September 4) to the media.

“Phuket province is the center of maritime tourism on the Andaman coast,” the announcement stated. “There are numerous boats from foreign counties travelling for tourism around Phuket and neighbouring islands, which causes heavy water traffic congestion. Therefore the organisation of boats in the area needs to be enforced.

“[The systems must be installed] to follow the order of the NCPO and to accord with the installed Vessel Traffic and Management System (VTMS) of Phuket [on Chalong Pier] to control the security of water transportation, to prevent maritime accidents and to secure the waters’ stability to the utmost effectiveness and benefit.”

The announcement specifies that cruise boats, motor yachts and sailing yachts must install AIS Class B systems or higher, and the system must be turned on at all times.

Violations of the regulation, it warned, “will result in punishment according to the highest law.”

Phuripat Teerakulpisit, director of the Phuket Marine Office, said, “The cost of an AIS is about B20,000-30,000 depending on the specifications.

“Places where people can buy an AIS [in Phuket] will be announced after our next meeting on Wednesday [September 10],” he added. On that day, he said, he will also explain in detail how the regulation will be applied and to which boats.

AIS systems are used worldwide not only to control boats but also for collision avoidance, fishing fleet monitoring, traffic management, security, search and rescue, and accident investigation.

The technology has been compulsory worldwide since 2002 for all ferries and vessels over 300 tons, and the European Union is currently looking at making it compulsory for other vessels over a certain size.



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sailing gweilo | 10 September 2014 - 09:24:52

This decision to fit AIS B is based on power and control by the military government and not safety.  Yachts in Phuket sail mostly in daytime and in good weather where traffic avoidance is done visually and is far safer than relying on AIS, which does have it's limitations. There has not been a yacht collision around Phuket to my knowledge which would have been prevented by AIS.  The message I'm getting is that Thailand is losing it's visitor friendly nature.  I'm going to sail in the King's Cup this year as I have already registered - but I think it will be the last.  I shall look elsewhere for my sailing and diving holidays from now on.  I think I will try Langkawi.  

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Local Farang | 06 September 2014 - 19:06:47

Sailing Farang...if a simple mandatory purchase of safety equipment AIS has cemented your decision to pack up...then Good Bye the seas will be safer without you.
Singapore will not accept you without a AIS either so langkawi is your only option.
Also note that all vessels are required to have an AIS transponder that is approved for use within the port by the MPA or the Port Master. Address any queries to Lee Cheng Wee at

Failure to have an AIS transponder can result in a substantial fine.

Happy Sailing !

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sailing farang | 06 September 2014 - 16:02:34

I must be one of those cheap charlie gypsei type. on monday i must go to phuket international academy and withdraw my thai step doughter from term 2 ( $12,000. a year)they like a 3 month notice, then i will let yacht haven know that i won't be renewing my
 yearly berth rental due jan. 1,($4,200. a year) to bad for the thai divers that clean the yachts boat bottom every month ,($600. a year) and my thai helper that is a good friend i will miss him  ($4000. year.) then their is the house i rent($6000.) year
 It was your comment  Local Farang that  helped cement this decision  for me .
 why would i want to stay in a country where tourist die regularly drowned or are in danger of drowning due to unsafe charter boats and dive boats .and the government puts a requirement on all yachts mine is 15 ton with penalty of jail time that most countries require on commercial vessels over 500 ton. Then my local falangs applaud it.

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Local Farang | 05 September 2014 - 14:15:38

kanaloa - AIS is safety so you can see other boats with or without lights. I think it should be mandatory in ANY boat regardless of the size worldwide. If the cheap charlie sailboat gypsies cant afford it or are not willing to pay for safety then they should all go to Langkawi tie up the Hole in the wall mangroves and retire. - Great news Phuket Navy well done !!Nail in the coffin for the Phuket Maritime support industry absolute Rubbish !!

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Simon | 05 September 2014 - 02:20:15

The IMO SOLAS regulation of 2002 requires vessels that are over 300 tons (Not 500GT) on an international voyage to have a Class A type AIS transceiver. There are various types of AIS transceivers (they transmit and receive AIS messages) - Class A, Class B and Identifier devices each of which are specifically designed for use on different types of boats and can be very low cost. AIS transceivers are now being required on many types of boats by many countries around the world: from China, Malaysia, India and Middle East to Europe and USA. They are proven to improve safety and security for everyone on the water. Therefore this initiative by Thailand is in line with general international good practice. This is an excellent move and will in fact be very good for the Thai maritime industry. 

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kanaloa | 04 September 2014 - 21:44:49

International Maritime Law states that all vessels over 500 tons require to have AIS fitted mandatory. Many yachts have AIS receivers only fitted but not transmitters. This is used to track and avoid large vessels. Contrary to the general image the average yachtsman does not have bottomless pockets. I think that this together with the ill conceived temporary importation rules introduced earlier and later revoked will only drive more yachts away from Thailand. 
On the subject of international Maritime Law when are the authorities going to get their own house in order and enforce proper lighting on their vessels it is a nightmare at the moment. The sea at night looks like Times Square at Christmas time!
This is going to be another nail in the coffin for the Phuket maritime support industry

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