SAFETY SYSTEMS

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Emergency Pumps

In the wheelhouse is a manual bilge 11/2 inch pump which a choice of pumping suction from the engine room or the saloon.  There is also a portable petrol driven 11/2 inch water pump which can be use for pumping out, fire fighting or upper deck washdown.

Fire Fighting

 Portable firefighting appliances - powder and foam are carried to meet statutory requirements.  In addition, the engine room will have an automatic fire extinguisher (CO2, HFC 227ea or SBK) mounted above the engine, which may have a manual override.

 Digital Selective Calling(DSC) VHF/Automatic Traffic Information System (ATIS)

Electronically, these are two very similar systems.  DSC VHF only transmits callsign and positional data on Ch 70 when an emergency transmission is made on VHF Channel 70.  ATIS transmits data on each transmission or every few minutes.  The MMSI number issued for a DSC VHF radio is 9 numbers, the first 3 being the country code - UK's are 232 - 235.  An ATIS number is 10 numbers and is almost the same format as a 9 digit MMSI but prefixed with a 9.  The country code letters are the same, but the remaining 6 letters are a direct translation of the vessel's call sign.  Some VHF radios can be programmed with both the MMSI and ATIS numbers, although only one system can be selected for use at a time.  Both MMSI and ATIS numbers are issued by the country of registration.  Currently, UK is not a signatory to the Basel Agreement, so OFCOM does not issue ATIS numbers.  However, the MMSI number can be loaded in some radio's ATIS memory with just the addition of the "9".  Whilst cruising inland waterways that use ATIS, this would at least let other users know the country of registration your vessel - even if the vessels callsign cannot be decoded directly.  The vessel details can always be looked up on the ITU MARS database.  For future proofing, I recommend a radio that has both DCS and ATIS functions.

Automatic Identification System (AIS)

This new system is mandatory for vessels over 300 GRT.  It transmits information on 2 frequencies - at 162 Mhz - at the upper end of the marine VHF band automatically.  Basic ship information - name, GPS position, course and speed etc is transmitted alternately on each freqency every 6 seconds.  More details - next port of call etc is transmitted every few minutes.  Stand alone receivers are now becoming available.  NASA Marine market 2 versions.  The NASA AIS "Radar"  is a small display that, when fed with own vessel GPS position, displays the relative positions of all AIS fitted ships transmitting within range.  It does however only receive one of the 2 frequencies, and the choice is user selectable.  The use of "Radar" is a complete misnomer - it will only plot a received signal.  If a contact is not transmitting, nothing will be seen.  In fact NASA Marine quote that the acronym "Radar" now means "Radio Direction and Ranging" to substantiate their equipment designation.  "Radar" actually means "Radio Detection and Ranging" - and their device does not detect.

The second NASA items may be of more interest.  It is just the AIS receiver engine and its output can be displayed on other devices.  For example on a laptop/PC overlaying the chart information.  Sea Clear is a sophisticated freeware chart plotter that will display all common commercial chart formats and an AIS input.


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