Ports Victoria awarded the 2020-21 Vessel Traffic Service award

Wednesday 27 October 2021
A team of quick-thinking and resourceful professionals from Ports Victoria (formerly with Victorian Ports Corporation Melbourne) Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) have been awarded a prestigious honour for their outstanding efforts to avert a maritime crisis.
Vessel Traffic Service award

The VTS Awards were established by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) to recognise outstanding contributions by a VTS to the safety of life at sea, safety and efficiency of navigation, and protection of the marine environment which is beyond their normal operational scope. This year one winner and one highly commended were awarded.  

The leader of the winning Melbourne VTS team, Senior Vessel Traffic Service Officer Andrew Pinto, said: "The award is a big surprise but it's nice to be acknowledged for the outcome and the teamwork.  

"The result on the day was due to teamwork not only within the VTS but also with the port service providers such as the coastal ships' masters, pilots and tug operators." 

"There were several incidents unfolding at the same time and to manage the situation we had to prioritise them in terms of risk and consequence. Everyone's goal was to ensure there would be no injuries, no environmental pollution, and no property damage," Mr Pinto said.  

AMSA Chief Executive Officer Mick Kinley said the Melbourne VTS team's efforts prevented "multiple emerging collisions and multi-million-dollar damage to maritime infrastructure and assets and avoided potential pollution." 

"When you factor in a sudden and severe weather event, limited resources and large ships behaving dangerously, you can't help but be impressed by the extraordinary efforts of the Melbourne VTS team," Mr Kinley said. 

Another nomination for the 2020-2021 VTS Awards was highly commended. 

The Port Authority of New South Wales Sydney VTS team received the VTS Awards 2020-21 commendation for its role in a joint operation with NSW Police during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Sydney VTS Operations and Support Manager Cameron Butchart said the key to this success was the open and robust communication between VTS and emergency service providers who were all following a common goal. 

"Our key goal was the safe and efficient movement of ships while dealing with the potentially sick crew," Mr Butchart said. 

Mr Kinley said there are 27 VTSs in Australia who dedicate every minute of their professional careers to coordinating ship movements every day. 

"I congratulate both the Melbourne and Sydney VTS teams on their extraordinary efforts to keep shipping safe in Australian waters. Like the air traffic controllers of our oceans and ports, VTS teams play a critical role in ensuring the safe and efficient flow of shipping for which all Australians depend." 

Nominations for the 2021-22 Australian VTS Awards will open on 15 November 2021. 

Winners' summary:  

2021 Australian VTS Award winner: 

On 27 December 2020, a sudden severe weather front smashed the Port of Melbourne with 55 knot winds.  

With limited towage and pilotage resources available, the Melbourne VTS team managed to prevent a number of collisions from ships which were parting lines and drifting from their anchorages under the intense weather conditions.  

In total, four near misses involving five ships were avoided as a result of the fast and effective action taken by the Melbourne VTS team. 

Commendation recipient:  

Over a 30-hour window between 3-4 April 2020, during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Port Authority of NSW Sydney VTS team coordinated the resupply, refuel and crew changeover of 1200 people from across five cruise ships. 

Despite a highly challenging operational environment, the Sydney VTS team went above and beyond their remit to ensure the operation was executed safely and efficiently. 

For more information or to arrange interviews, contact:  

  • AMSA media - 1300 624 633 or media@amsa.gov.au   

  • Ports Victoria media team -  03 8347 8348 

  • Port Authority of NSW Sydney media team -  02 9296 4672 

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