Vessel traffic services newsletter issue 21—December 2020

In this edition we give the details about several new VTS


The second half of 2020 has been a busy period for VTS across Australia, including the appointment of two new VTS authorities (Flinders Ports and TasPorts) and Port Authority of New South Wales being authorised to provide VTS at Port Kembla.


Above: Adelaide VTS Centre

VTS authorities and their respective areas

VTS authorityVTS
Victorian Ports CorporationMelbourne
Maritime Safety QueenslandBrisbane
Hay Point
Abbot Point
Pilbara Ports Authority—Port HedlandPort Hedland
Pilbara Ports Authority—Port of DampierDampier
Fremantle PortsFremantle
Port Authority of New South Wales
Port Kembla
Bell Bay
Port Latta
Coles Bay
Lady Barron
Flinders PortsAdelaide

IMO update—resolution on VTS

The IMO Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) approved the draft revision to IMO Resolution A.857(20) Guidelines for Vessel Traffic in November. The revision will be submitted to the IMO Assembly in 2021 for adoption.



IALA update

The 49th meeting of the IALA Vessel Traffic Services Committee (VTS49), held between 21 September and 15 October 2020,  was attended by 172 IALA members from 34 countries and four sister organisations.

The Participants from Australia included AMSA, Maritime Safety Queensland and Victorian Regional Channels Authority.

Key outcomes of VTS49

1. New recommendations and guidelines

The following draft recommendations and guidelines were finalised during VTS49 and were subsequently approved by Council at its meeting 8-10 December 2020. Australian VTS authorities and other stakeholders contributed to the development of these documents through the VTS advisory group.

IALA Standard 1040 Vessel Traffic Services – VTS Implementation
Recommendation 0119 – Establishment of VTS and Guideline 1150 – Establishing, Planning and Implementing VTS

The Recommendation and associated Guideline were revised to:

  • clarify the international regulatory and legal framework for establishing and operating VTS through SOLAS regulation V/12 (Vessel Traffic Services), the IMO resolution for VTS, IALA standards and the national law
  • outline the practices for establishing VTS
  • update incorrect or obsolete elements
  • align guidance with other international standards.
IALA Standard 1040 Vessel Traffic Services – VTS Operations 
IALA Guideline 1089 - Provision of Vessel Traffic Services (INS, TOS & NAS)

The Guideline has been rewritten to reflect changes relating to the provision of VTS in the ‘new’ IMO resolution for VTS expected to be adopted in 2021The new guideline:

  • removes reference to ‘types of service’ (information service, traffic organisation service and navigational assistance service). The new resolution emphasises the role of all VTSs in providing information, monitoring and managing ship traffic, and responding to unsafe navigational situations (see Section 3 ‘Purpose of a VTS’).
  • Recognises the establishment of ‘VTS beyond territorial seas’ (see Section 4 ‘Regulatory and legal framework’).
  • removal of differentiation between a coastal and port VTS. The basic principles in the delivery of a VTS is the same in both circumstances.

Note: The IMO Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) approved the draft revision to IMO Resolution A.857(20) Guidelines for Vessel Traffic in November for submission to the IMO Assembly in 2021 with a view to its adoption.

IALA Standard 1040 Training and Certification
Recommendation 0103 – Training and Certification of VTS Personnel
Revised to specify required practices when training and certifying VTS personnel.
IALA Standard 1040 Training and Certification
Guideline on Recruitment, Training and Certification of VTS Personnel
A new guideline describing how to implement the practices specified in Recommendation 0103 – Training and Certification of VTS Personnel. Guideline number to be assigned by the secretariat.

2. Correspondence groups

Several correspondence groups were formed at VTS49 to prepare new and revised standards remaining in the 2018–22 VTS Committee work programme for consideration at VTS50 in March 2021.

Key tasks include:

  • approving the revision of core documentation to align with the new IMO resolution for VTS.
  • developing new documentation describing the use of common phraseology and procedures to facilitate unambiguous communications from a VTS to the bridge team and allied services.
  • updating documentation prescribing the practices associated with operational procedures for VTS.
  • updating documentation prescribing practices associated with IALA model courses, including V103/1 - VTS Operator; V103/2 - VTS Supervisor; V103/3 - OJT; V103/4 - OJT Instructor; and V103/5 - Revalidation Process.

Above: Port Kembla VTS

VTS advisory group

The 26th meeting of the Australian VTS Advisory Group—the peak consultative body to AMSA for matters relating to its responsibilities for VTS in Australia—took place on 28 and 29 October. 

Key outcomes from the meeting include:

1. IALA standards relating to VTS 

Members were briefed on:

  • The new and revised recommendations and guidelines mentioned in the IALA Update above.
  • The formation of the IALA Correspondence Groups to progress the preparation of new/revised documentation for approval in 2021.

2. Monthly meetings 

Noting the significant changes to the international framework for VTS expected over the next 12 months with the likely adoption at IMO of the new resolution for VTS, members agreed that monthly virtual meetings world be beneficial to:

  • monitor changes to VTS standards associated with the pending new IMO resolution and new documentation related to VTS communications and phraseology
  • consider possible implications and contribute to the IALA intersessional groups preparing these documents.

warren bath
Above: Warren Bath, winner of the inaugural Australian VTS Award this year.

2020-21 Australia VTS Award

The VTS award was launched in December 2019 to recognise an outstanding contribution by a VTS to the safety of life at sea, safety and efficiency of navigation, and the protection of the marine environment.

Nominations for the 2020–21 VTS award opened on 1 October 2020. 

Learn more


Calendar of events

  • VTS Committee meeting—22–26 March 2021
  • IALA Symposium—19–23 April 2021 (online event)
  • IALA risk management toolbox seminar—8–12 November 2021, Port Education Centre, Port Melbourne, Vic. This seminar provides detailed instruction, including case studies and hands-on practical use, of IALA’s risk models.
Last updated: 14 November 2023