Published on Australian Maritime Safety Authority (

Vessel traffic services newsletter issue 22—May 2021

11 May 2021

These events were:

IALA VTS Committee

The 50th meeting of the IALA Vessel Traffic Services Committee (VTS50) was held as a virtual meeting from 10–31 March 2021.

170 participants from 33 countries, along with five sister organisations participated in VTS50. Participation from Australia included AMSA, Maritime Safety Queensland and Victorian Regional Channels Authority.

Key outcomes included:

New recommendations and guidelines

From an Australian perspective, all of the expected outcomes with regards to new/revised recommendations and guidelines relating to implementation, operations, communications and training were achieved. The following documents will be forwarded to IALA Council for approval at its meeting 8-10 June 2021.

Topic areaWork program taskComment
ImplementationUpdate documents that require changes to incorporate the new terminology post adoption of the revised IMO Resolution on Vessel Traffic Services (Task

21 recommendations and guidelines were updated to align with the new IMO resolution on vessel traffic services expected to be adopted by the IMO Assembly later this year.

Remaining IALA documents related to VTS will be finalised in October.

Develop a guideline on competencies for planning and implementing (Task 1.1.3)A new guideline on competencies for planning and implementing VTS provides a mechanism to ensure those responsible for the planning and implementation are competent in the practices described in Recommendation R0119 - Establishment of VTS and associated Guideline G1150 - Establishing, Planning and Implementing VTS.
OperationsReview and update V-127 on Operational Procedures for Vessel Traffic Services (Task 1.2.1)Guideline 1141 - Operational Procedures for Delivering VTS describes how to implement practices specified in Recommendation 0127 – VTS Operations regarding processes and procedures to ensure standards are consistently maintained and the service is delivered accurately, efficiently and effectively.
 Update Guideline 1110 on Decision Support Tools for VTS Personnel (Task 1.2.2)Guideline 1110 - Use of Decision Support Tools for VTS Personnel provides guidance on the use of decision support tools to enhance situational awareness and support VTS personnel provide timely and relevant information, monitor and manage ship traffic and respond to developing unsafe situations.
CommunicationsUpdate Guideline G1132 on VTS Voice Communication, including VTS standard Phrases/Phraseology (Task 1.3.1)Guideline 1132 - VTS Voice Communications and Phraseology describes how to implement practices specified in Recommendation 1012 – VTS Communications to ensure VTS communications are harmonised through common phraseology, procedures and technology for the delivery of precise, simple and unambiguous communications to the bridge team and allied services.
Training and AssessmentReview and update Guideline 1017 on Assessment for Recognition of Prior Learning in VTS Training (Task 3.3.2)Guideline 1017 – Assessment for recognition of prior learning in VTS Training provides guidance to training organisations when developing a framework to assess and recognise the prior learning of students. The objective of the assessment is to grant exemptions from subject areas or modules within an IALA model course

Australian VTS authorities and other stakeholders contributed to the development of these documents through the Australian VTS Advisory Group.

New tasks

New tasks commencing at VTS50 included:

Task groups

Several task groups were formed at VTS50 to prepare new and revised standards remaining in the 2018–22 VTS Committee work programme for consideration at VTS51 in September 2021, including:

IALA Symposium

The 14th IALA Symposium was held (12-16 April). IALA symposiums have traditionally been a quadrennial event focused on VTS, however this symposium combined modern vessel traffic services with the implementation of IMO e-navigation maritime services.

The aim of the symposium is to provide an opportunity for organisational, operational, technical and industrial maritime managers and experts from all over the world to present, share knowledge and discuss innovative developments that contribute to the safe, efficient, secure navigation of shipping.

Presentations and discussion focused on emerging developments such as future VTS, digital communications and MASS and their associated implications for existing operational environments and the international regulatory framework for safety of life, safety and efficiency of navigation and protection of the environment.

The symposium comprised 12 sessions:

  1. Opportunities in a digital world
  2. Developing VTS
  3. Managing risk
  4. Anomaly detection and decision support
  5. Embracing ENAV
  6. Connectivity and resilient PNT
  7. Digital communication
  8. Navigation safety
  9. Transport chain efficiency
  10. Safety and security in a connected world
  11. VTS training and certifications
  12. MASS Challenges

In the closing plenary eight items were identified as the symposium highlights and will be considered by the IALA Committees in preparing their work programmes. The highlights included:

  1. VTS will be essential for digital information exchange and therefore central to the successful digital transformation within the maritime world.
  2. Maritime connectivity is paramount for progressing e-navigation. It is time to settle on the standards for the first generation of a worldwide connectivity and data communication solution so industry can move forward with innovative solutions.
  3. VHF data exchange ranging mode (VDES R-Mode) can act as terrestrial backup for global navigation satellite system (GNSS) by using time-synchronised ranging information. VDES also provides improved communication capabilities.
  4. Advanced decision support systems will assist both VTS operators’ and navigators’ situational awareness, facilitate risk assessment, and improve the safety and efficiency of navigation.
  5. The provision of S-100 digital maritime services is a key enabler for e-navigation. Global harmonisation of standards is required for a successful implementation of the ambitious digital maritime agenda.
  6. Successful VTS training is a crucial factor for delivering VTS in a professional and harmonised way. New skill sets for VTS personnel to meet changing demands will be essential and should be taken into account by relevant authorities.
  7. VTS will be fundamental in implementing harmonized digital data to prepare for management of mixed traffic areas with both conventional and autonomous vessels.
  8. Autonomous systems, driven by a business case with defined user needs and requirements, are becoming operational and stakeholders need to be prepared. Standardisation, harmonization and definition of responsibilities is required to guide current and future activities.