I noticed this posting on a message board today:
Arild said: “…On Nov 26 a report from IMO indicated that pirates may be using AIS to track and pinpoint target vessels. Until now it was assumed the pirates were simply attacking any vessels of opportunity. Debriefings of captured pirates now show they are aware of valuable ships leaving distant ports and heading towards their chosen hunting area.
One French registered luxury yacht has already been taken after it transited the Suez canal.. Pleasure yachts will be seen as lower risk targets now that armed escorts and on board mercenaries are employede to protect commercial shipping.
Suddenly AIS becomes a mixed blessing when transiting troubled waters…”
This matches what I’ve suspected.
There’s a coast guard rule that if you have safety equipment on the boat, you are required to be using it. I think it could be argued that this means that if you have AIS, then you are required to be transmitting. On the other hand, there’s a common sense rule that says that the captain’s #1 responsibility is to keep the boat and passengers safe, and if it means not going out of your way to tell pirates where you are, when in dangerous waters, then that’s possibly the smart thing to do.
I had to make this decision when running off of Nicaragua earlier this year, and left the AIS transmitting. I had earlier thought about shutting it off, but the seas were so rough when we were there, that I was certain no pirate would be crazy enough to be away from port.
Hopefully, all the recent press around pirate attacks will cause action to be taken long before we get to that part of the world, and it will be safe cruising. If not, then we will be shipping the boat through the danger zone, or finding another route.