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How to become a vessel traffic services authority

VTS Authorities are responsible for interaction with participating vessels and the safe and effective provision of the service in their VTS area.

An entity must apply to be authorised to provide a vessel traffic service for a VTS area.

VTS Authorities are responsible for the management, operation and coordination of the VTS, interaction with participating vessels and the safe and effective provision of the service in their VTS area.

Where authorised, they are to operate the VTS within national and international guidelines and legislation. In particular, this includes:

  • ensuring the operational objectives of the VTS are met;
  • ensuring that the VTS is operated in conformity with IMO Resolution A.857(20), associated IALA Standards, Recommendations and Guidelines and any standards established by the Competent Authority for VTS
  • that the issues identified when determining the need for the VTS have been either alleviated or at least reduced
  • maintaining appropriate standards of communications on channels assigned for VTS purposes
  • ensuring that sufficient, appropriately qualified and suitable trained staff available to provide the type of service/s declared
  • ensuring that equipment appropriate to the type of service/s declared is available
  • ensuring a legal basis for the operation of a VTS, and that VTS personnel have the appropriate authority and / or delegations required to fulfil their duties.

Under Marine Order 64 (Vessel Traffic Services), AMSA issues an instrument of authority for a period of five years, as long as ongoing audit requirements are met.

How to become a VTS Authority and maintain the authorisation

A compliance audit process is completed to assess the extent to which the entity meets the criteria for authorisation to provide a vessel traffic service for a VTS area. That is:

  • There needs to be a vessel traffic service for the VTS area.
  • The applicant can meet the responsibilities of a VTS authority outlined in IMO Resolution A.857(20) (Guidelines for Vessel Traffic Services) when operating the vessel traffic service.

1. Complete the Pre-audit supporting documents

The pre-audit compliance matrix documents assist entities to assess and monitor the delivery of their operations with regards to international obligations, the Navigation Act 2012, IALA standards, recommendations and guidelines, as well as recognised ‘international good practice’. 

The following supporting documents must be completed and submitted as part of the application.

2. Apply to AMSA to become a VTS Authority

Complete the Application form and submit the supporting documentation to AMSA.

Appointment of a vessel traffic services authority application form AMSA445 

3. Date of audit is set between both parties

An agreed date for the audit will be set between both parties.

An estimation of costs for services associated with processing an application and conducting the compliance audit will be provided to the applicant. Cost recovery will be in accordance with Australian Maritime Safety Authority Fees Determination 2015

4. On-site audit conducted

An on-site audit will be conducted to assess through objective evidence (e.g. provided in the form of online and hard copy system documentation, procedures, meeting minutes, audit reports etc.) that the applicant can meet the responsibilities of a VTS authority.

A closing meeting to review the audit findings will be conducted on-site following the audit.

An audit report will be prepared. A corrective action plan may be developed, to allow the entity to address any areas of minor non-conformances and observations from the audit. 

5. Recommendation to issue Instrument of Authority

Depending on the audit outcomes, a recommendation will be made to whether an instrument of authority will be issued to provide a VTS under the provisions of Marine Order 64.

AMSA may conduct an audit of a VTS authority at any time to ensure that the authority continues to comply with the conditions of its authorisation.

Typically, an interim audit is undertaken about half way through the five year term of authorisation. 

1. VTS Authority will be notified that an interim audit is due

We will notify the VTS Authority that an interim audit is to be undertaken. A date for the audit will be agreed between both parties.

An estimation of costs for services associated with processing an application and conducting the compliance audit will be provided to the VTS Authority. Cost recovery will be in accordance with Australian Maritime Safety Authority Fees Determination 2015.

Where new or revised IALA standards, recommendations and guidelines have come into effect since the initial appointment, we may forward relevant pre-audit compliance matrix documents to ensure the VTS Authority can met the requirements.

2. On-site audit conducted

An on-site audit will be conducted to assess through objective evidence (e.g. provided in the form of online and hard-copy system documentation, procedures, meeting minutes, audit reports etc.) that the applicant can meet the responsibilities of a VTS authority.

A closing meeting to review the audit findings will be conducted on-site following the audit.

An audit report will be prepared. A corrective action plan may be developed to allow the entity to address any areas of minor non-conformances and observations from the audit. 

IMPORTANT - The VTS Authority must apply at least 90 days before the expiry of the instrument

We will renew the authorisation if the entity continues to comply with the criteria for authorisation to provide a vessel traffic service for a VTS area.

A full application will be required as new or revised IALA recommendations and guidelines may have come into effect since the initial appointment.

1. Complete the pre-audit supporting documents

The pre-audit compliance matrix documents assist entities to assess and monitor the delivery of their operations with regard to international obligations, the Navigation Act 2012, IALA standards, recommendations and guidelines, as well as, recognised ‘international good practice’. 

The following supporting documents must be completed and submitted as part of the application.

2. Apply to AMSA to renew Authorisation

Complete the Application form and submit the supporting documentation to AMSA.

Appointment of a vessel traffic services authority application form AMSA445 

3. Date of audit is set between both parties

An agreed date for the audit will be set between both parties.

We will advise of estimated costs for services associated with processing an application and conducting the compliance audit. Cost recovery will be in accordance with Australian Maritime Safety Authority Fees Determination 2015

4. On-site audit conducted

An on-site audit will be conducted to assess through objective evidence (eg provided in the form of online and hard-copy system documentation, procedures, meeting minutes, audit reports etc) that the applicant can meet the responsibilities of a VTS authority.

A closing meeting to review the audit findings will be conducted on-site following the audit.

An audit report will be prepared. A corrective action plan may be developed to allow the entity to address any areas of minor non-conformances and observations from the audit. 

5. Recommendation to issue Instrument of Authority

Depending on the audit outcomes a recommendation to renew the instrument of authority to provide a VTS under the provisions of Marine Order 64 will be made.

A VTS Authority may on their own initiative apply to have amendments made to their instrument of authority.  For example:

  • to change the boundaries of the VTS area
  • to change the description of the VTS services to be provided
  • to change details in the instrument of authority that are no longer accurate, or
  • to include any other details it considers necessary.

We may also at any time amend an instrument of authority to change details or impose further conditions on the VTS authority as required. A formal 90 day notification process between the VTS authority and State/Territory agency responsible for maritime safety will occur if we need to amend the instrument.

Assessment of the Amendments

We will assess the proposed amendments against the following criteria:

  • the amendment is consistent with the objective of improving the safety and efficiency of the vessel traffic and protecting the environment; and
  • the applicant can continue to meet the responsibilities of a VTS authority mentioned in IMO Resolution A.857(20) Guidelines for Vessel Traffic Services when operating the vessel traffic service.

Last updated: 

Tuesday 25 September 2018