Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
The IMO defines a Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) as a service implemented by a Competent Authority, designed to improve the safety and efficiency of vessel traffic and to protect the environment. The service should have the capability to interact with the traffic and to respond to traffic situations developing in the VTS area. The IALA VTS Manual states that “The realities of modern shipping, with larger and less manoeuvrable ships, traffic congestion in ports and waterways, hazardous cargoes and the potential for environmental damage, demanded that sophisticated measures be taken to reduce risks. Establishing Vessel Traffic Services was and still is a significant response to that demand”.
The IMO identifies three types of service that can be provided by a VTS:
The title of each service in each case is largely self-explanatory. In its simplest form, a VTS may provide basic information on which the master of the vessel bases his own decisions without further intervention from ashore. More usually, however, a VTS is also directly involved in the organisation and management of vessel traffic within its area of responsibility. As part of these services, the VTS should 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.
IALA is a non-profit, international technical association. Established in 1957, it brings together authorities concerned with marine aids to navigation, as well as manufactures 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. VTS documentation and standards in the form of standards, recommendations, guidelines, brochures and the VTS Manual are available free of charge for download under the “Publications” tab on the IALA website.
Aids to navigation can take the form of fixed or floating marks that may be lit or unlit, including lighthouses, leading lines, buoys and beacons. A vessel traffic service (VTS) can also be categorised as an AtoN, albeit a very sophisticated and relatively costly one. The mix of AtoN used in a port or waterway is determined by means of a risk assessment, which takes into account the local geography, traffic patterns, vessel size and manoeuvrability, local hydrographic conditions and weather patterns. IALA publications include guidance on maintenance and location of AtoN.
On 20 November the European Commission commenced the process for reviewing the 2013 TEN-T guidelines with a public consultation before summer.
This was reported the same day and it is learnt that ESPO believes the review should not lead to a complete change of direction in the TEN-T policy.
Furthermore, ESPO believes that the rationale of the 2013 guidelines remains the same: achieving an efficient, sustainable and multimodal Transport Infrastructure Network (TEN) in Europe.
The European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) however believes that the European Commission should use the review as an opportunity to level the playing field between the maritime and the land links.
In the words of ESPO’s Secretary General Isabelle Ryckbost: ‘More than 30 % of intra-EU freight traffic is currently going over sea. The ongoing digitalisation, the progress on the internal market for maritime transport with the new European Single Window Environment framework and the greening of shipping, which seems to be delivering first on the short sea links, will give maritime transport within the EU, and even within one Member State, a new impetus. It is now time to fully recognise the contribution of maritime transport to the aims of Europe’s Transport Infrastructure policy. The maritime dimension must be brought on an equal footing with the land-based corridors and links.’
The Namibian Ports Authority (Namport) is currently marking the 15th year of accreditations from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
This notable achievement follows a successful external audit that was conducted by the South Africa-based National Quality Assurance (NQA) representing the Global Certification Body based in the UK.
External auditors covered: the ISO 9001 Standard (Quality Management System), the ISO 14001 Standard (Environmental Management System) and the ISO 45001 Standard (Health and Safety Management System) and as a result conferred Namport with the positive report on all three standards.
In the words of Acting Chief Executive Officer of Namport, Kavin Harry: ‘The importance of this achievement cannot be underestimated especially the impact it has on reassuring our esteemed customers on the quality and safety of our services rendering at our ports. It is therefore, only befitting that I, on behalf of the Executive management team convey our heartfelt appreciation for the great work displayed by all Namport employees resulting into this great achievement.’
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