Vessel traffic services newsletter issue 21—March 2022

In this issue: new IMO regulatory regime for VTS, proposed maritime training packages for VTS and IALA Risk Management Toolbox Seminar, 21-25 November, Melbourne
24 March 2022

New IMO regulatory regime for VTS 

The IMO regulatory regime for VTS has changed following adoption of IMO Resolution 1158(32) Guidelines for vessel traffic services in December 2021. This includes: 

  • changes associated with the IMO resolution for VTS.
  • changes to IALA standards and associated recommendations, guidelines and model courses specifically related to the establishment and operation of VTS.
  • the reissue of Marine Order 64 (Vessel traffic services) to align with the provisions of the new IMO resolution for VTS.

New IMO resolution for VTS

The IMO, in its role in regulating the planning, implementation and operation of VTS, is responsible for providing guidance on their establishment, operation, qualification and training. This includes a leadership role in providing a framework for the cooperation among Governments to facilitate the consistent and harmonized delivery of VTS worldwide. 

IMO resolution A.1158(32) Guidelines for Vessel Traffic Services was adopted by the IMO Assembly in December 2021, replacing resolution A.857(20) as adopted in 1997. 

The new resolution provides a modern, concise, and high-level document to assist Contracting Governments promulgate laws and regulations necessary to giving effect to SOLAS regulation V/12. 

Some of the changes associated with the new resolution include: 

The old IMO resolution was overly prescriptive on the responsibilities for competent authorities and VTS providers (or VTS authorities as they were previously known as).  In many instances it did not clearly delineate between their respective roles and responsibilities. 

The new resolution concisely defines role responsibilities. 

  1. Role and responsibilities of the competent authority and VTS provider
  • The Contracting Government is responsible for establishing a legal basis for VTS that gives effect to regulation V/12 of the SOLAS Convention.
  • The competent authority is responsible for establishing a regulatory framework for the establishment and operation of VTS in accordance with SOLAS regulation V/12 and the IMO resolution for VTS, IALA standards and national law. The competent authority is seen as the ‘regulator’.
  • The VTS provider is responsible for ensuring that VTS conforms with the regulatory framework set by the competent authority.
  1. Types of Service (INS, TOS, and NAS)

All references to ‘type and level of service’ have been removed in the new resolution. 

The old IMO resolution described three ‘types of service’—‘Information Service’, ‘Traffic Organization Service’ and ‘Navigational Assistance Service’. These were subjective and open to broad interpretation and debate. This led to confusion, particularly for masters of vessels navigating in different VTS areas. Concerns were also raised that services were not being declared or delivered globally in a consistent manner. 

  1. Purpose of VTS

The new IMO resolution highlights that the purpose of VTS is to contribute to the safety of life at sea to improve the safety and efficiency of navigation; and support the protection of the environment within a VTS area by mitigating the development of unsafe situations through:

  • providing timely and relevant information on factors that may influence ship movements and assist onboard decision-making.
  • managing ship traffic to ensure the safety and efficiency of ship movements.
  • responding to developing unsafe situations.

Implicit in this definition is these elements are interrelated and provide the foundation for the provision of a VTS. 

  1. Recognising IALA Standards

The old IMO resolution did not recognise IALA Standards and associated recommendations, guidelines, and model courses. The guidance and terminology were limiting and complicated the development and modernisation of IALA guidance in a range of areas. 

The new IMO resolution recognises: 

  • IALA as an important contributor to IMO’s role and responsibilities relating to VTS, and
  • IALA Standards and associated recommendations, guidelines and model courses specifically related to the establishment and operation of VTS.
  1. VTS qualifications and training

Annex 2 of the old IMO resolution referred exclusively to VTS qualification, training, and certification. The Annex was overly prescriptive, dated and in conflict with the development of modern IALA training guidance and associated VTS model courses. 

The new resolution recognises IALA Standards and associated recommendations, guidelines and model courses specifically related to VTS qualifications, training, and certification. 

  1. VTS beyond the territorial sea

The old IMO resolution was silent on the ways VTS contributes to the safety of vessel traffic and the protection of the environment beyond territorial seas. 

The new IMO Resolution recognises VTS may be established beyond the territorial sea: 

  • in association with an IMO adopted ships' routeing system or mandatory ship reporting system, or
  • to provide information and advice on the basis of voluntary participation.
  1. VTS and future developments

The old IMO resolution did not provide a framework to accommodate new and emerging practices and technologies. 

The new IMO resolution has been future proofed by providing a framework for governments to respond to change by taking into account: 

  • applicable IMO instruments and relevant international guidance prepared and published by appropriate international organizations, and
  • future technical and other developments recognised by the Organization, relating to VTS.

Changes to IALA standards

IALA has updated 27 recommendations and guidelines to ensure VTS documents align with the new resolution. Download copies from the  IALA website

The following three IALA guidelines have been extensively revised to reflect the new IMO resolution: 

  • G1089 – Provision of a VTS - updated to reflect the change associated with removal of ‘types of service’ and clarification on the ‘purpose of VTS’.
  • G1132 – VTS Voice Communications and Phraseology - new section with standardised operational phrases.
  • G1141 – Operational Procedures for Delivering VTS - updated to align with the new resolution and amendments to the above guidelines.

Reissue of Marine order 64 (Vessel traffic services) 

Marine order 64 (Vessel traffic services) contains requirements for the authorisation of VTS providers under the Navigation Act. It also deals with the accreditation of VTS training organisations and approval of their model courses, as well as reporting requirements for ship masters to VTS providers. 

The proposed draft of Marine order 64 has been updated to align with the provisions of the new IMO resolution and incorporate other administrative changes.  

The key changes to the marine order are as follows:  

  • To align with the provisions of the new IMO resolution:
    • all references to ‘types of services’ (Information Service, Traffic Organisation Service and Navigational Assistance Service) have been removed.
    • references to IALA standards have been added, specifically in relation to the establishment and operation of VTS.
    • an option for VTS providers to conduct recurrent training courses with approval from AMSA for revalidation of VTS qualifications has been added.
  • The requirements for VTS training organisations to be a ‘registered training organisation’ have been amended.
  • The marine order has been formatted and restructured in line with the most current drafting style, in addition to updated definitions and removal of repetitions.

A copy of the draft marine order and a summary of changes are available on AMSAs website, along with an online form to provide comment and feedback with regards to the proposed changes. Comments close on Sunday  
3 April 2022.  

It is proposed the draft marine order will come into effect on 1 July 2022. 

Proposed maritime training packages for VTS 

Following a request from AMSA, the Australian Industry Standards (AIS) are developing proposed maritime training packages for IALA VTS model courses.

These training packages detail the range of knowledge and skills required by individuals and are packaged into a nationally recognised qualification that aligns to the Australian Qualifications Framework. Once endorsed, these maritime training packages will be listed on the National Register ( for application by Registered Training Organisations delivering VTS training. 

The maritime training package module will be developed initially only for the V103-1 VTS operator model course. Future consideration may be given to other IALA VTS model courses. 

AIS has released a draft training package for external consultation at MAR Vessel Traffic Services - Australian Industry Standards

Consultation closes on Thursday 17 March 2022. 

IALA Risk Management Toolbox—training seminar  

A training seminar on the use of the IALA Risk Management Toolbox is scheduled for 21-25 November 2022 in Melbourne.  

The seminar provides detailed instruction, including case studies and hands-on practical use on key risk models from the IALA Toolbox. 

  1. PAWSA—The Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment (PAWSA) is a qualitative tool that provides a structured and systematic approach to:
  • identify major waterway safety hazards.
  • estimate risk levels, evaluate the effectiveness of mitigation measures, and
  • recommend selected measures for implementation that may to reduce risk.

Participants will be provided with the skills needed to conduct a PAWSA workshop by converting the opinions of experts with local knowledge into quantified results and how to interpret the results.  

As a qualitative tool, PAWSA is exploratory and the analysis component seeks to get a deeper understanding of why a certain phenomenon occurs, its associated consequences and the potential effectiveness of additional mitigation measures. 

Find more information about PAWSA in IALA Guideline 1124

  1. IWRAP—A Windows-based software rogram IWRAP, provides a standardised, quantitative method to evaluate the probability of collisions and groundings in a given waterway.  It allows for different scenarios to be developed, so that changes such as those in traffic volume or composition, route geometry, aids to navigation or the introduction of other mitigating measures, can be modelled.

Participants will be able to understand the principles of IWRAP to estimate annual probabilities, to simulate changes in a waterway and evaluate the effects of these changes.

Find more information on IWRAP in IALA Guideline 1123

Contact details 

For more information contact the VTS team on:

Last updated: 3 January 2023