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.
It was announced from Tokyo on 25 November that ClassNK had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on cybersecurity with the Panama Maritime Authority (PMA).
Panama, the world’s largest flag state, is making various efforts to improve the safety of its own vessels. On 17 November, PMA announced the establishment of a Cyber Incident Voluntary Reporting Scheme to better understand the cyber threats that vessels are exposed to and to seek more pragmatic and effective measures to control the cyber risks. It is understood that the scheme encourages all Panama-flagged vessels to report detected cyber incidents to PMA.
The PMA has issued a relevant Marine Notice available here: https://panamashipregistry.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/MMN-22-2021-CYBER-SECURITY-November-2021.pdf
Under the MOU, ClassNK will provide its knowledge and experience cultivated so far to PMA for their efforts to ensure cyber security. As part of these efforts, Class NK will analyse the information collected from the cyber incident voluntary reporting scheme of PMA.
In 2018, a leading mark, a tower equipped with Sealite’s Port Entry Light (SL-PEL-10), was established at Puerto Mamonal, Colombia, to enhance the safety of vessel traffic approaching the port from the north channel.
Since the installation of Sealite’s Port Entry Light in 2018, it has helped Puerto Mamonal increase the number of large visiting vessels and provided safer operations in the approach to the port.
However, it was found that the north and south channels were in need of additional aids to navigation for safer passage.
Puerto Mamonal’s port owners, with the help of Ingeniería Naval & Señalización Marítima S A S, installed Sealite buoys: six SL-B2200 Nautilus Ocean Buoys in Region B channel configuration.
The SL-B2200 Nautilus is rotationally moulded using UV-stabilized virgin polyethylene to prevent discoloration from the sun’s UV rays. This is especially important in hotter climates. Each buoy is foam filled with closed-cell polyurethane which prevents water logging in the event of collision.
The buoy’s lightweight and two-piece modular design makes it easy to transport and assemble. Its strength lies in the stainless steel tie bars in the buoy body or hull structure connecting the lifting and mooring eyes. This ensures even lifting and mooring stresses at major stress points.
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