Antwerp to launch new digital Vessel Traffic Service

Aerial view of cargo ship in transit in Istanbul.

The Port of Antwerp will launch a new Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) to make its operations safer and more efficient.

In a statement, the port said it will deploy a mobile team of officers and supervisors to manage the VTS. Additionally, it said it will introduce “digital solutions” to guarantee an improved service, as well as hybrid vessels.

The new VTS will be responsible for the shipping guidance of seagoing and inland vessels behind the locks, the port says. It will ensure a safe and efficient traffic flow by providing information and advice related to routes, weather conditions and potential risks, to all water-related traffic participants behind the locks.

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The port said it is “committed to transparency and the optimisation of shipping planning” and has added a new team of Port Planners, to take care of the safe, efficient planning and processing of mooring bays. All parties involved, such as the port, port facilities and port users, are to be taken into account as much as possible.

The new, mobile functions are being created to improve the supervision and management; a port authority supervisor, port authority officers will soon be responsible for specific control tasks within the framework of supervision and enforcement in the port area.

The team will be active on the water and on land. In the event of an incident, they will be responsible, along with the emergency services workers, for its safe handling.

This, the port says, contributes to a safe port area and surroundings. The supervisors and officers will also have new hybrid patrol vessels at their disposal in the future.

Port of Antwerp is deploying several new digital tools to make its port management and service provision more efficient. It is developing several new applications for this purpose, which are connected to the port information system APICS (Antwerp Port Information and Control System).

These include an inland navigation application that allows skippers to give their electronic advance notice, request lockage, consult the available berths in real time and register their (de-)mooring movements and an application that allows terminals to enter and modify the planning for seagoing vessels.

Rob Smeets, Chief Operations Officer Port of Antwerp: Our business plan is founded on various pillars, including ‘Operational Excellence’, in which we aim for maximum efficiency in our services.

“The launch of efficient shipping guidance and planning will certainly contribute to this. Another priority is ‘Safety & Security’ in which we take responsibility for the safety of people, assets and environment.

“By establishing these new positions of Port Authority Supervisor and Officer, our management on both land and water will be raised to a higher level.”

Annick De Ridder, Port Alderman added: “As a port, we never stop investing in the continued professionalisation of our services. In the coming year, we will be paying particular attention to increasing traffic safety and efficiency by further extending our shipping planning and guidance, plus the use of new technological applications and hybrid vessels.

“As such, we will establish our position as an efficient and future-proof port.”

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