e-Navigation in the Flanders Port Area



Yves Maekelberg, Agency for Maritime Services and Coast, Belgium


This article aims to explain the implementation of the e-navigation concept in the Flanders Port Area:

  • The collection of radar and AIS data is handled by the VTS authority in the Flanders Port Area for the benefit of other maritime stakeholders. Voyage-related data is gathered by the maritime stakeholders in such a way that we strive to the ‘onestop shop’ concept.
  • In the Flanders Port Area, the VTS plays a role as a ‘connector’ to exchange information nationally and regionally. Nationally AIS and voyage-related information is exchanged via a regional network with the other maritime stakeholders (local port authorities, pilot organization, MRCC, VTS). The VTS authority also exchanges radar, AIS and voyage-related information regionally (NorthSea AIS, SafeSeaNet).

Besides the electronic exchange of maritime information it is equally important that Port Coordination Centers house the maritime stakeholders responsible for an efficient port planning. Being located in the same centre allows easy communication between VTS operators of these different maritime stakeholders to take appropriate action, which adds an extra level next to the electronic exchange of maritime information.

  • The presentation of maritime information is done internally in the VTS centers by consolidating internal data with data from the regional network. This is done in such a way that the VTS operator is not overloaded with information, but so that critical information is available when needed. Different decisionsupporting tools are available to the VTS operator.


The mission of the shipping assistance division is to organize safe and efficient shipping from and to the Flemish seaports located in the Flanders Port Area: Ostend, Zeebrugge, Ghent and Antwerp. This paper presents the investments made in technical infrastructure, the established agreements (regionally and internationally) and the operational teams involved and how they cooperate to achieve the mission by using e-navigation. The long-term strategy and vision and background of these investments are the concretization and realization of a ‘chain approach’, with the goal of a streamlined organization and coordination of shipping from open sea to the quay wall in the port, and vice versa, in cooperation with all stakeholders.

The shipping assistance division

Maritime & Coastal Services

The shipping assistance division is a division of the Maritime & Coastal Services Agency of the Government of FlandersThe Agency is responsible in Flanders for the affluent and safe shipping to and from the four Flemish seaports, the management of the coast, and the hydrographical and hydrometeorological services. The pilotage organization is responsible for the piloting assistance. The fleet is responsible for the transport of the pilots, for Search and Rescue (SAR) vessels and for providing vessels for other maritime assignments. The organization is responsible for the maintenance of the coastal defense against the sea, the hydrographical office and for the recreational ports along the coast. The shipping assistance division is organized into a Vessel Traffic Services, an MRCC responsible for SAR, and cooperation with the port captain office of each of the four Flemish ports.


Since the radar treaty was signed between Flanders and The Netherlands in 1978, there is a bilateral nautical management between Flanders & The Netherlands in the form of one-cross border VTS for the Scheldt area: the Scheldt Radar Chain (abbreviated SRK in Dutch). Its mission is to organize safe and efficient shipping from and to the ports along the Scheldt.


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