Vessel traffic services in Australia

Our obligations to domestic and international vessels in our region.

Vessel traffic services (VTS) assist you in avoiding dangerous situations.

Key responsibilities

One of our key responsibilities is to establish and operate VTS under Australia’s obligations to the:

  • International Convention on the Safety of Life at Sea 74/78 (SOLAS)
  • Navigation Act 2012

VTS are internationally recognised navigational safety measure through SOLAS.

SOLAS states:

  • VTS contribute to safety of life at sea, safety and efficiency of navigation and protection of the marine environment, adjacent shore areas, work sites and offshore installations from possible adverse effects of maritime traffic.
  • Governments may establish VTS when, in their opinion, the volume of traffic or the degree of risk justifies such services.
  • The IMO Assembly Resolution A.857(2): Guidelines for Vessel Traffic Services describes the principles and general provisions for operating a VTS and for participating vessels and the roles and responsibilities of contracting governments, competent authorities and VTS Authorities.

As VTS is an active aid to navigation, it has the capability to interact with and influence decision-making on vessels. For example, VTS might detect the development of close-quarter situations between vessels and alert vessels accordingly. This may mean instructing them to take action. You can read more about becoming a VTS in our Guidance for assessing, appointing and auditing a VTS.

As the majority of maritime accidents are attributed to human factors, VTS offers a highly visible safe guard.

Related information

Last updated: 

Wednesday 20 February 2019