RADAR and AIS : Integrated Bridge Systems Vol. 1 By Dr Andy Norris

Radar & AIS web

So far as I am aware this is the first book on radar specifically written for mariners since the old Radar Observer’s Handbook, the last edition of which was produced in 1998. With many advances in radar and associated technologies taking place since that time, an updated book on marine radars is long overdue and Dr. Norris’ has provided a book that explains the latest developments in a clear and concise manner.  Since 1st July 2008 it has been a requirement for all new radar installations to be capable of displaying AIS data and since formal training courses always lag well behind the introduction of new technology there is much ignorance regarding AIS and especially its integration into radar displays and without a comprehensive understanding of the technology and its limitations it is all too easy for a watch keeper to regard the information displayed as infallible. As Dr. Norris warns in his introduction “…the user who is ignorant of the possible problems that can arise will invariably become involved in an accident”.

The main part of Radar and AIS is divided into four chapters, namely:

Radar Basics

AIS Basics

The use of radar and AIS

Practical considerations of using AIS with radar

This main text is supplemented with useful annexes:

The radar equation

International function messages

AIS vessel types and cargoes

IMO display symbols

Parallel indexing

Familiarisation training framework

Together, all these sections provide the mariner with an essential understanding regarding the advantages and limitations of both technologies and identifies the very important fact that since the COLREGS currently contain no rules covering the use of AIS in anti-collision action, radar and visual observations must be the only aids used when risk of collision exists.  The book also acknowledges that many radar features have been prioritised by the whim of manufacturers rather than by user needs which has left some key functions such as parallel indexing complex and fiddly to use and regrets the fact that training for a particular system is too often achieved by dumping a fat and poorly written operating manual on board for the crew to read and digest in their spare time!! We pilots, of course, have no chance!

Overall this is a much needed reference work that should have a place on every “ready room” bookshelf.


For review of Volume 2 IBS (ECDIS) click here

 Both books available from the Nautical Institute: Click here for ordering & price

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