Vessel Traffic Services (VTS): their role in efficient port operations

Vessel Traffic Services (VTS): their role in efficient port operations

D Rostopshin, Senior Product Manager, Shore-based Systems, Transas Marine S Rostopshin, Head of Coastal and Port VTS, St Petersburg, Russia

View in full: Vessel Traffic Services (VTS): their role in efficient port operations
Read the full article

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) defines Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) as the service implemented by a competent authority, designed to improve the safety and efficiency of vessel traffic and to protect the environment. Therefore the efficiency of vessel traffic is one of the main tasks in VTS operations. But from a practical point of view, how can VTS affect the efficiency of port operations in addition to increasing the safety of navigation? The International Association of Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) – the main organisation responsible for developing international recommendations for VTS – divides regular VTS duties in three different categories.

Providing information

The first and most simple service is the Informational Service (INS). This serves to ensure that essential information becomes available in time for on-board navigational decision-making. Generally under this service, VTS operators provide vessels with all information related to a port’s operations or to navigational safety. Even such a simple service allows an increase in port efficiency as such information can consist of position, identity, intention and destination of vessels, and amendments; also included are changes in information concerning the VTS area, such as boundaries, procedures, radio frequencies, reporting points, meteorological and hydrological conditions, maneuverability limitations of vessels and much else. Using this information, the team on the bridge can optimise its own passage in order to improve passage time, avoid dangerous situations and thereby improve port performance.

Managing traffic

Another and more advanced service provided by VTS is the Traffic Organisation Service (TOS). TOS is a service to prevent the development of dangerous maritime traffic situations and to provide for the safe and efficient movement of vessel traffic within the declared VTS area. Examples of this service could be planning or prioritising vessel movements, establishing a system of traffic clearances, organising the allocation of space, following special routes or time slots, observing speed limits, etc.

  Panama Canal Edition      VTMIS & Aids to Navigation (ATON)

I already have a Free Member Account

   Remember Me

Lost password?

Free Members Account Registration

Please register for a free members account to access all free content.
Once registered, you will not have to re-enter your details to download free papers.
Please note: You will receive an activation code via email. If you do not receive this email straight away, please check your spam folder.

I would like to:

 I consent to Port Technology International collecting and storing my data from this form.
By submitting your details, you are accepting these Terms & Conditions and agreeing to our Privacy and Cookies policies. You can opt out of these communications at any time.

Register for a Full Paid Members Account

Click here to choose from 3 membership packages and access over 1,700 technical papers.

Purchase a Premium Membership

Panama Canal Edition


This exclusive edition celebrating the Panama Canal's 100-year anniversay begins with a new section focusing on the Panama Canal and includes a brief history of the Canal from the first attempt at its construction to the on-going expansion project, as well as a guide to Panamax vessel sizes. Elsewhere is an exclusive section for port tyres, featuring interviews with GRI and BKT Tyres.

 Download App  Download App