A new VHF transponder is aimed at the commercial market but may have leisure applications

UK marine location and safety systems manufacturer McMurdo Pains Wessex and electronic cartography producer Transas yesterday launched a jointly developed Universal Automatic Identification System (UAIS) at the Europort commercial shipping show in Amsterdam. UAIS is a shipborne transponder system operating on the VHF maritime band and sends information such as vessel indentification, size, heading, position, speed and course over ground, and type of cargo carried, to other vessels operating in the vicinity. From July 1 next year, most vessels with displacements of 300 gross tonnes and higher will be required under SOLAS legislation.

“Essentially, UAIS is a complex VHF radio with extra software,” says Chris Hoffman, McMurdo technical director. “Working with Transas, who are near neighbours of ours in Portsmouth, created a good synergy. We’re good at manufacturing competitive products that are robust and look good. Transas has all of the software and back-up that we needed. We’re both selling the product through our respective distribution networks.”

Although the product has been launched in the commercial market, Hoffman sees it trickling down into the recreational marine market in a year or two’s time. The two companies are already working on the development of a ‘mini’, or class B, UAIS, which is likely to appeal more to owners of recreational boats, he added.