Vessel Traffic Service
A vessel traffic service (VTS) is a marine traffic monitoring system established by harbour or port authorities, similar to air traffic control
Air traffic control
Air traffic control is a service provided by ground-based controllers who direct aircraft on the ground and in the air. The primary purpose of ATC systems worldwide is to separate aircraft to prevent collisions, to organize and expedite the flow of traffic, and to provide information and other...

 for aircraft. Typical VTS systems use radar
Radar is an object-detection system which uses radio waves to determine the range, altitude, direction, or speed of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. The radar dish or antenna transmits pulses of radio...

, closed-circuit television
Closed-circuit television
Closed-circuit television is the use of video cameras to transmit a signal to a specific place, on a limited set of monitors....

 (CCTV), VHF radiotelephony and automatic identification system
Automatic Identification System
The Automatic Identification System is an automatic tracking system used on ships and by Vessel traffic services for identifying and locating vessels by electronically exchanging data with other nearby ships and AIS Base stations...

 to keep track of vessel movements and provide navigational safety in a limited geographical area.

Vessel traffic services

A service implemented by a competent authority, VTS is designed to improve the safety and efficiency of navigation, safety of life at sea and the protection of the marine environment. VTS is governed by SOLAS
International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea
The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea is an international maritime safety treaty. The SOLAS Convention in its successive forms is generally regarded as the most important of all international treaties concerning the safety of merchant ships.- History :The first version of the...

 Chapter V Regulation 12 together with the Guidelines for Vessel Traffic Services [IMO Resolution A.857(20)] adopted by the International Maritime Organization
International Maritime Organization
The International Maritime Organization , formerly known as the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization , was established in Geneva in 1948, and came into force ten years later, meeting for the first time in 1959...

 on 27 November 1997.

The VTS traffic image is compiled and collected by means of advanced sensors such as radar, AIS
Automatic Identification System
The Automatic Identification System is an automatic tracking system used on ships and by Vessel traffic services for identifying and locating vessels by electronically exchanging data with other nearby ships and AIS Base stations...

, direction finding, CCTV and VHF or other co-operative systems and services. A modern VTS integrates all of the information in to a single operator working environment for ease of use and in order to allow for effective traffic organization and communication.
A VTS should always have a comprehensive traffic image, which means that all factors influencing the traffic as well as information about all participating vessels and their intentions should be readily available. By means of the traffic image, situations that are developing can be evaluated and responded upon. The data evaluation depends to a great extent on the quality of the data that is collected and the ability of the operator to combine this with an actual or developing situation. The data dissemination process exists of conveying the conclusions of the operator. Three forms of data dissemination are possible:

VTS personnel

The VTS guidelines require that the VTS authority should be provided with sufficient staff, appropriately qualified, suitably trained and capable of performing the tasks required, taking into consideration the type and level of services to be provided in conformity with the current IMO guidelines on the subject.

IALA Recommendation V-103 is the Recommendation on Standards for Training and Certification of VTS Personnel. There are four associated model courses V103/1 to V-103/4 which are approved by IMO and should be used when training VTS personnel for the VTS qualification.

Information service

An information service is a service to ensure that essential information becomes available in time for on-board navigational decision-making.

The information service is provided by broadcasting information at fixed times and intervals or when deemed necessary by the VTS or at the request of a vessel, and may include for example reports on the position, identity and intentions of other traffic; waterway conditions; weather; hazards; or any other factors that may influence the vessel's transit.

Traffic organization service

A traffic organization service is a service to prevent the development of dangerous maritime traffic situations and to provide for the safe and efficient movement of vessel traffic within the VTS area.

The traffic organization service concerns the operational management of traffic and the forward planning of vessel movements to prevent congestion and dangerous situations, and is particularly relevant in times of high traffic density or when the movement of special transports may affect the flow of other traffic. The service may also include establishing and operating a system of traffic clearances or VTS sailing plans or both in relation to priority of movements, allocation of space, mandatory reporting of movements in the VTS area, routes to be followed, speed limits to be observed or other appropriate measures which are considered necessary by the VTS authority.

Navigational assistance service

A navigational assistance service is a service to assist on-board navigational decision-making and to monitor its effects.

The navigational assistance service is especially important in difficult navigational or meteorological circumstances or in case of defects or deficiencies. This service is normally rendered at the request of a vessel or by the VTS when deemed necessary.

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