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Vessel traffic services 

Aiding navigation in waterways 
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Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) are a valuable, shorebased tool to ensure safe, effective and efficient movement of vessels in ports. A VTS provides traffic information to the teams on ships’ bridges and advises them about the wider traffic image. The IALA VTS Manual states; “The realities of modern shipping, with larger and less manoeuvrable ships, traffic congestion in ports, hazardous cargoes and the potential for environmental damage, demand that sophisticated measures be taken to reduce risks. Establishing a VTS is a significant response to that demand”.

IMO identifies three types of service that can be provided by a VTS;
• Information Service (INS)
• Traffic Organization Service (TOS)
• Navigational Assistance Service (NAS)

The title of each service in each case is largely self explanatory. Either a VTS provides basic information on which the master of the vessel makes his own decisions without further intervention from ashore, or the VTS is more directly involved in the organisation and management of vessel traffic within its area of responsibility and, overlaid on both of these services, the VTS may provide an oversight of the navigational safety of vessels and provide navigational assistance and advice if appropriate.

The VTS should be manned by personnel nationally certificated to the internationally recognised IALA V103 course standard. The types of service provided by a VTS will be promulgated in appropriate hydrographic publications and on the “World VTS Guide” internet website.
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Document Library - Vessel traffic services
Vessel Traffic Services
Traffic control, local port services
Aids to Navigation (AtoN)
IALA International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities
IALA is a non profit, non governmental international technical association. Established in 1957, it gathers marine aids to navigation authorities, manufacturers and consultants from all parts of the world and offers them the opportunity to compare their experiences and achievements. IALA’s aim is to harmonize aids to navigation worldwide and to ensure that the movements of vessels are safe, expeditious, cost effective and harmless to the environment.
What a shipmaster can expect of the VTS, and what is expected of the shipmaster
Co-operation and understanding between the ship and the shore is essential to the safe operation of vessels in a VTS area. Masters are expected to make the best use of VTS in navigational decision making.
Source: IALA   Date: May 2009
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