The Acquisitions Directorate is reporting purchase of equipment to complete the Nationwide Automatic Identification System. US regulations will require most vessels in US waters 65 foot and longer to participate.
This should be a boon to SAR. It has the potential to help the Coast Guard in many ways. Still we should not forget, the information is only as good as the cooperation of the participating vessels. Vessels that choose not to cooperate by either not transmitting, or by transmitting bogus data, for whatever reason, will either not show up at all or will be improperly identified.
Related news release here: http://www.uscgnews.com/go/doc/4007/2446958/
Current status and good explanation of the system here: http://www.marinelink.com/news/responsibilities408761.aspx
Turning off AIS just became an even bigger no no https://www.marinelog.com/news/turning-off-ais-just-became-an-even-bigger-no-no/