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 18 September ESPO announced that the projects of Algeciras Port Authority, Port of Amsterdam, Port Authority of Lisbon and Puertos del Estado have been shortlisted for the 12th European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) Award on Social Integration of Ports.
The jury selected these four applications from a total of seven submissions. The theme of this year’s competition is Enhancing the port-city relationship by encouraging innovators and local start-ups to be part of the port ecosystem.
The ESPO Award 2020 will go to the port managing body that has developed a successful strategy to attract innovation and local start-ups to the port and thus matches supply and demand for innovative solutions for the port and its stakeholders. The winning port will demonstrate to what extent this strategy has led not only to stimulating innovation in the port, but also making the port ecosystem an attractive place for innovative ideas and local young start-up talents.
Pat Cox, Chairman of the ESPO Award Jury commented: ‘In a year of unparalleled challenges facing the transport industry because of the Covid-19 pandemic, our ports have proved again their critical and indispensable role in vital supply chain logistics.
Africa Ports & Ships (www.africaports.co.za) reported on 18 September that Cameroon’s Port Authority of Douala (PAD) has taken delivery of its new 2700 cu metre capacity Easydredge from Dutch builder, Royal IHC.
The Easydredge 2700 joins a Beaver 50 dredge supplied earlier and will be joined by a larger Easydredge 3000 Trailing Suction Hopper Dredger (TSHD) also from Royal IHC.
A new dredging department was created officially in August this year to manage and operate the fleet of dredging equipment under the control of PAD for the port of Douala-Bonabéri.
The port authority says it spent an average of XAF17.16 billion (US$30.8 million) on dredging costs every year.
By having its own dredging department and dredging equipment PAD estimates it will have an annual expenditure of XAF6.7 billion ($12 million) over the next five years.
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