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New AIS base stations established in Svalbard

The Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA) has, in cooperation with Kongsberg Seatex, extended the AIS network in Svalbard with four new AIS base stations. The new base stations provides live AIS data of seagoing traffic in the Hinlopen Strait.

New AIS base station on the east coast of Spitsbergen. Photo: Kongsberg Seatex / Rune Forfot Simonsen.
New AIS base station on the east coast of Spitsbergen. Photo: Kongsberg Seatex / Rune Forfot Simonsen.

“AIS provides a complete traffic overview with only a few seconds delay. With increasing traffic, extreme weather conditions and vast distances, this will be an important service for vessels, search and rescue services, emergency preparedness agencies, and environmental protection management,” says NCA Director of Maritime Safety, Arve Dimmen.

The NCA operates the national AIS network, and distributes AIS data to other governmental authorities for civil traffic monitoring and emergency preparedness. Live AIS data is distributed to, among others, the Norwegian Joint Rescue Coordination Centers, the Governor of Svalbard and the Norwegian Coast Guard. Access to real-time AIS data makes it easier for search and rescue services to more quickly locate vessels in distress and get an overview of other ships in the area that could assist.

Four new AIS base stations are located on the east coast of Spitsbergen and provide an overview of vessel traffic in the Hinlopen Strait. Another two base stations will be established on the northwest coast of Spitsbergen.

Designed for extreme conditions

A lack of infrastructure and environmental concerns in these remote locations requires the new AIS base stations to be fully powered by wind and solar energy.  

The innovative AIS base stations are developed and technically operated by Kongsberg Seatex and are designed to endure extreme weather conditions, be operated without established communication infrastructure, leave no footprint on the environment, and to function during the Arctic dark season.

The new AIS base stations are an improved edition of the AIS base station established in September 2019 on the remote island Prince Karls Forland off the west coast of Spitsbergen, which was the first AIS base station established in an area without any infrastructure or communication services. Throughout the autumn and winter, the base station has withstood the extreme pressures from wind, cold and ice.

“The development of AIS monitoring in the remote areas of Svalbard is an exciting innovation. The solutions are based on a close cooperation with Norwegian industry and local expertise. Many years of cooperation and development have given us valuable knowledge and technology that is necessary to solve challenges related to maritime safety and the protection of vulnerable areas in the High North,” says NCA Head of the Center for VTS and Pilotage, Jon Leon Ervik.

A preventive measure for maritime safety

So far, the NCA has established 11 AIS base stations in Svalbard. The development of AIS infrastructure in Svalbard will be completed by the end of 2021, and is carried out in collaboration with Kongsberg Seatex and resources from the Governor of Svalbard and Lufttransport.

AIS is a preventive measure in the work of the Norwegian government to strengthen maritime safety and emergency preparedness in Norwegian waters.

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