Vessel Traffic System

A Vessel Traffic Service, commonly abbreviated to VTS, is a system for monitoring marine traffic in a bid to heighten safety and control on the water. The VTS operates in a similar way to air traffic control systems, and are a valuable tool for supervising activity in international waters. Harbor and port authorities established the vessel traffic system and it is used to monitor, identify, and locate vessels.

How VTS works

Vessel traffic services vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, however they usually use CCTV, radar, VHR radiotelephony, and automatic identification systems. The combination of these elements enables the service to track the movements of vessels while also providing increased safety.

A VTS in principle offers a heightened level of navigational safety for vessels on course through international waters. A VTS is important for vessels to adopt as it aims to ensure safety of those at sea and better develop lines of communication.

Where vessel traffic service systems operate, vessels must follow procedures including;

  • Area procedures,
  • Arrival and departure reports
  • Approach procedures,
  • Sector area
  • Pilotage procedures

SOLAS governs all vessel traffic services, and stipulates that the operation of a VST must comply with regulations set by SOLAS and the IMO. The effective operation of a VTS should have information on vessels and factors influencing marine traffic readily available to view.

In VTS areas, the use of traffic organization services are implemented to help prevent dangerous situations involving maritime traffic. These services also help to enforce a structure of safety and efficiency for the movement of vessels and are highly effective where there are high densities of traffic or congestion.

The use of a VTS cannot be undermined and it is important to enlist the advice and guidance of a professional consultancy firm that specialize in maritime safety and services, when seeking a VTS system for your vessel.