Objectives and Requirements
The IALA VTS Manual (2012) describes the main objectives of a Vessel Traffic Service as follows:
- Aid the Mariner in the safe use of navigable waterways
- Afford unhindered access to pursue commercial and leisure activities
- Contribute to keeping the seas, and adjacent environment, free from pollution
Achieving objectives requires setting goals and establishing plans that will achieve the required goals. Therefore for each of the objectives above we must determine what is required in order for that objective to be achieved. IMO Regulation A857 defines the internal functional requirements of a VTS as Data Collection, Data Evaluation and Decision Making which must be applied for each of the objectives above so that a more detailed analysis is developed to breakdown each objective into the essential functional functions and components that are required for a VTS system to fulfil those objectives.
In addition, local regulations also guide the establishment of a Vessel Traffic Service and specific details about its implementation. Within the EU, the 2002 Commission Directive (2002/59/EC) and its 2011 amendment (2011/15/EU) define specific details about establishing a Community Vessel Traffic Monitoring and Information Service.
Brief Risk Assessment
Determining functional requirements starts with an assessment of Risk and the key risks would be defined as follows:
- Vessel related risks (for example, geographical, environmental, navigational)
- Inaccessibility, whether deliberate or accidental or due to environmental factors
- Criminal Activity
In assessing risk, it is always important to understand the costs that would be incurred should any one, or more, of the risks occur. A VTS, VTMIS, VMS, Coastal or Offshore Surveillance System or a Maritime Domain Awareness solution provides a risk reduction, as well as a management, tool for the implementing authority. Its successful implementation does not eliminate the risks but it does provide facilities for managing situations as they occur to ensure that the risks are minimised. The Cost Benefit Analysis section of this website will further explore and debate this issue.