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AIS Norway

The national AIS network, AIS Norway, consists of shore- and satellite-based AIS. It is operated by the Norwegian Coastal Administration (NCA) and is an important tracking tool for Norwegian authorities and the national emergency response.

The NCA is responsible for the national AIS network and shares AIS traffic data with other authorities and ports. The AIS network provides a continuous overview of the shipping traffic situation along the coast and in sea areas.

AIS stands for Automatic Identification System and was first established as an anti-collision tool for shipping. Vessels with AIS transponders on board transmit dynamic information about their own identity, speed and course to nearby ships via VHF, and enable them to receive the same type of information from vessels nearby. The AIS information is supplementary to the radar-based information that vessels receive.

AIS was introduced by the United Nations International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to improve safety for ships and the environment, and to strengthen maritime traffic services and monitoring. In Norway, AIS is part of the government’s effort to improve maritime safety and preparedness in Norwegian waters. Monitoring shipping traffic helps to identify anomalies, and enables the authorities to initiate necessary measures more quickly in order to reduce the risk of accidents at sea.

As AIS provides a continuously updated and complete traffic overview for the authorities, it has become an important tool for the Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) and search and rescue services. AIS is particularly important in situations where time is of the essence. The ability to see the identity, speed and course of vessels in real time enables emergency and rescue services to implement preventive measures when unwanted incidents occur.

AIS data is stored in the NCA’s AIS database for several years. Historical AIS data is searchable and universally accessible at kystdatahuset.no.

Shore-based AIS – coastal traffic monitoring

The shore-based AIS network currently consists of about 90 base stations on the mainland and Svalbard. With some exceptions, the base stations cover the area from the baseline to 40-60 nautical miles from the coast. They receive information about all vessels with AIS transponders on board within the area covered by the base station. 

In recent years, the Norwegian Coastal Administration has established a new type of AIS base station on Svalbard that covers large parts of the coast off the largest island of Spitsbergen. Environmental considerations and a lack of land-based infrastructure such as electricity and communication in remote areas on Svalbard mean that the newest base stations are operated using wind power and solar energy, in contrast to previously established AIS base stations on Svalbard, which are operated on land-based electricity and communication infrastructure.

The Norwegian Coastal Administration’s AIS base stations have been developed, installed and maintained by Kongsberg Seatex.



Harald Åsheim /

Notify the NCA

Satellite-based AIS – sea monitoring

The Norwegian Coastal Administration currently has five AIS satellites that can observe vessels over large sea areas. Each satellite passes over Norwegian sea areas at 90-minute intervals and transmits traffic information for a period of 5-10 minutes.

AIS messages are transmitted at intervals that vary from a few seconds to several minutes, depending on location and speed. The AIS satellites orbit the earth and register ships every time they pass over Norwegian sea areas, while land-based AIS signals transmit continuously updated information about vessels’ movements. Data from the satellites are downloaded to the Norwegian Coastal Administration’s database via a ground station in Vardø.

Traffic data from AIS satellites represents important information for many maritime authorities. The Norwegian Coastal Administration uses data from AIS satellites in, for example, the Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) to identify and monitor vessels at risk, identify ships with an engine stop at sea, direct the towboat emergency response and identify vessels that are responsible for oil spills in the sea areas.

The AIS satellites show shipping traffic in all sea areas. Satellite-based AIS information makes it quicker and easier for the rescue coordination centres to get an overview of maritime traffic, find the position of ships in distress or that need assistance, and locate nearby vessels that can assist. AIS data are also used by the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries, Norwegian Customs, the police, the Governor of Svalbard and the Norwegian Armed Forces.

The satellite-based AIS service was developed in collaboration with the Norwegian Space Agency, the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment and Kongsberg Seatex. The AIS satellites are operated by Statsat.

Read more about the satellite programme



Bjørnar Jon Kleppe /

Facts about AIS

  • There are approximately 5000 vessels fitted with AIS in Norwegian waters at any given time. Every vessel updates its position on AIS roughly every 10 seconds.
  • In 2020, the Norwegian Coastal Administration had about 11 billion AIS messages from shipping stored in its database.
  • AIS will show all vessels with active AIS transmitters on board within the area covered, regardless of obstacles such as poor visibility, islands, etc. – in contrast to radar.
  • AIS information is transmitted in standardised packets using internationally defined channels in the maritime VHF frequency.
  • Static and sailing-related information is transmitted every 6 minutes or when there is new data. Dynamic information is refreshed every 2 to 180 seconds, depending on the speed and any course changes for the vessel.
  • The range of AIS signals is limited by the VHF range, which is primarily determined by the height of the antenna. The typical range from a maritime vessel is 20 nautical miles.
  • There are two different classes of AIS. AIS Class A includes AIS transponders on board ships (covered by the 1974 IMO SOLAS Convention), while AIS Class B are AIS transponders for use on land (AIS base stations), on lighthouses and navigation marks, on board pleasure craft and on board rescue helicopters and aircraft.

AIS services for the general public

The public can see the maritime traffic in real time in several of the Norwegian Coastal Administration’s digital services:

AIS data is retrieved from the Norwegian Coastal Administration’s national AIS network, AIS Norway.

International exchange of AIS data

On behalf of the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), the Norwegian Coastal Administration operates an AIS data centre that collects and exchanges information on maritime traffic in European waters.

The AIS data centre coordinates AIS data in two of three European monitoring regions: the North Atlantic, which includes the Barents Sea and the North Sea, and the Baltic Sea.

AIS data are distributed to countries with borders to these sea areas. In addition, the Norwegian Coastal Administration provides satellite-based AIS data that provides an overview of ships in larger sea areas not covered by land-based AIS.

These data are used by government agencies to monitor and track maritime traffic in the different countries.

Sharing AIS data

  • The data centre registers AIS data from 17 000-19 000 ships at any given time.
  • The AIS data centre in Norway coordinates AIS data from Belgium, Denmark, England, Estonia, Finland, France, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Russia.
  • Data from the AIS data centre, which is operated from the Norwegian Coastal Administration’s office in Haugesund, are transmitted to the European Maritime Safety Agency’s (EMSA) Maritime Support Services (MSS) in Lisbon.
  • The European cooperation for the exchange of maritime information was established to increase maritime safety through early warning, more efficient search and rescue operations and more effective investigation of maritime accidents.
  • The international AIS cooperation is based on the European STIRES concept (SafeSeaNet Traffic Information Relay and Exchange System) established by EMSA.


AIS requirements

  • Vessels over a certain size are required to use AIS equipment when in operation.
  • Internationally, this was introduced by the United Nations International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in the SOLAS Convention in 1974. The requirement is stipulated in Chapter V (Safety of Navigation) Regulation 19. Requirements for using AIS equipment are also laid down in EU Directive 2002/59.
  • The requirement to have AIS on board Norwegian vessels is regulated by the Norwegian Maritime Authority, and the requirements are stipulated in Regulation no. 1157 of 5 September 2014 on navigation and aids to navigation for ships and mobile offshore units, and in Regulation no. 660 of 13 June 2000 on construction, equipment, operation and inspections for fishing vessels with a length of 15 metres and over. The Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries has, in some cases, also imposed a requirement for AIS on vessels fishing for special species.
  • The Norwegian Coastal Administration’s national network, AIS Norway – a system for receiving AIS signals from ships along the Norwegian coast – has been developed in line with EU Directive 2002/59/EC on the establishment of a common European vessel traffic monitoring and information system.
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