Introduction

Objective: This study evaluates the benefits of deploying synthetic AIS-ATON ahead of major storm events. The target audience for this survey are mariners who have seen the use of synthetic AIS-ATON during the major storms in 2018 (Hurricane Florence, Hurricane Michael, etc).

Background: AIS is an internationally adopted radio communication protocol that enables the autonomous and continuous exchange of navigation safety related messages amongst vessels, lifeboats, aircraft, shore stations, and aids to navigation. AIS-ATON are broadcasted electronic messages that can be displayed on an integrated radar and/or electronic charting system such as an ECDIS or ECS. The majority of AIS-ATONs are currently being broadcasted via the USCG Nationwide AIS network.

There are three types of AIS-ATON:

  - Physical:  AIS-ATON messages are broadcast from a transmitter located on the buoy or beacon.

  - Synthetic:  AIS-ATON messages are remotely broadcast, typically from shore, to the assigned position that corresponds with an existing buoy or beacon. If a buoy shifts its position due to a storm, the location of the synthetic AIS-ATON remains on the original assigned position of the ATON.

  - Virtual: AIS-ATON messages are remotely broadcast, typically from shore, to an assigned position that has no corresponding physical buoy, or beacon.

Current practice is for the Coast Guard to broadcast Synthetic AIS-ATON on previously identified critical Aids to Navigation marking waterways in an area expecting a major storm event such as a hurricane or typhoon. The intent of this action is to provide mariners an uninterrupted ATON signal in case the storm leaves the physical ATON off station or missing. Synthetic AIS-ATON are not intended to permanently replace any physical ATON, they are temporarily placed in order to assist with recovery after a storm.

Through this survey the Coast Guard is seeking to understand your opinion and experience with the deployment of these synthetic aids. Your answers to this survey should not include other AIS-ATON broadcasts that are not associated with storm recovery. Time to complete this survey is estimated to be less than ten minutes. 

Thank you for taking the time to participate in our survey.  Your feedback is important to us.

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