Search Results : vts

Oct 152012

Graph depicting number of groundings prior to, and after, the introduction of REEFVTS.

Australia’s Maritime Safety Authority, AMSA, has issued a new video on the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait Vesel Traffic Service, REEFVTS,  available for viewing on the AMSA website. Several high-profile groundings have led to installation of VTS and new procedures for the environmentally-critical area.

Located in Townsville, REEFVTS is a joint initiative of Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) and AMSA. It is one of the largest coastal vessel traffic services in the world, monitoring from Cape York to Sandy Cape.

The Great Barrier Reef is recognised all over the world for both its stunning beauty and its environmental diversity. That’s why the International Maritime Organization declared the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait particularly sensitive sea areas. This means extra care needs to be taken to safeguard the reef from the potential impacts of shipping. Continue reading »


Pilots and VTS – Room For Improvement?

 maritime safety  Comments Off on Pilots and VTS – Room For Improvement?
Jul 192009

MAC received a cry for help from Andreas Bach, who’s studying at World Maritime University and exploring the relationship between pilots and VTS operators. Some of our readers will undoubtedly have something to say on the subject and some guidance.

Says Andreas: “I am in the process of writing a Master dissertation that intends to investigate the relationship between pilots and VTS operators. The reason for me to chose this area of research is that I believe that there is room for improvement with regards to the co-operation between the two services. In my literature research I have had a hard time to find related material, the case of Audacity and Leonis are a good example on the lack of co-operation.”

It’s certainly an issue that bears study. If you want to contribute to Andreas’s knowledgebase email and we’ll put you together.

Dec 032007

John Clandillon-Baker at UK Pilot Magazine sent me a link to the collision/allision between the general cargo ship Karen Danielsen and the Great Belt Bridge in Denmark that’s very timely given the call for ships to obey VTS Operators in the same way that aircraft obey air traffic controllers. In this case the Croatian Chief Officer fell asleep alone on the ship’s bridge and sadly died in the incident. The area was covered by a VTS system but, at the critical moments, the VTS operator was distracted and didn’t know the ship had hit the bridge until he heard a Mayday on the VHF.

Karen Danielsen

The Karen Danielsen before… 

KD Bridge
This was the bridge

Karen Danielsen after

…and after. The Chief Officer, the single watchkeeper on the bridge, died. 

The official report concludes that VTS could not have prevented the collision. John’s magazine article says: “In my opinion there is a bit of whitewash over the finding that the VTS could probably not have prevented this disaster since the investigators have seemingly revealed that no operators were monitoring shipping on the relevant display for over 30 minutes. If it is considered unlikely that the operator could have prevented the collision even if he had been keenly monitoring the ship it does rather beg the question why bother with having the VTS and expensively manning it since it is seemingly not fit for purpose?

“One common factor amongst all the VTS centres that I have visited is that VTS operators are allocated many administrative duties which inevitably distract the VTS operator from monitoring the displays. If the procedural changes introduced in the Danish Belt centre following the collision were implemented as general VTS policy the increase in manpower required to separately cover the administrative functions could have a significant impact on cost effectiveness of VTS.

You can read his article here.

An otherwise occupied VTS operator also played a role in the grounding of the P&O-Nedlloyd Magellan in Southampton Water, as mentioned in a previous post.

Despite the inevitable howls of protest and indignation from the industry the paradigm shift from VTS as advisers to VTS as controllers is sure to come. It will probably be the biggest change since VTS system began in Liverpool in 1948. Clearly, those who manage VTS will have to pull their socks up, too.

One issue that tends to be overshadowed in the Karen Danielsen case is fatigue. The Chief Officer had been working for 11 hours, taking breaks only for meals. As it happens, new crew had joined the ship on the day of the collision. None were involved in the accident but john has some forceful comments about how they joined the ship:

“…investigators noted a disturbing factor around how crew changes are now undertaken in total contravention of the Working Time Directive which results in ships’s personnel joining the vessel in an already extremely fatigued state. The report notes:

The 2nd officer together with four other new crew members joined the vessel around 1000 hours on 3 March 2005 after travelling by mini-bus from Split in Croatia to Svendborg, in Denmark. This was a direct drive of 26 hours, they were accompanied by two drivers and a crew manager from the manning agency. Upon arrival at the ship they went through their respective handovers and the departing crew members left to return to Croatia with the same mini-bus shortly after 1400 hours on 3 March. The joining crew went straight on duty upon arrival at the vessel.

Due to the busy work schedule planned for the 3rd March, all on board, both existing and newly joined crew worked throughout the day on the 3 March 2005.

I understand that this appalling disregard of the ‘Human Element’ is apparently now common practice as a means of saving the cost of hotel bills and air fares.

Says it all, really.


Maria M Grounding – Confusion, Culture and Toxic Leadership

 Accident, Accident report, Toxic Leadership  Comments Off on Maria M Grounding – Confusion, Culture and Toxic Leadership
Mar 222017

Maria M Bridge – bad attitude, poor communications

We are republishing some of our posts on Toxic Masters. Have you a horror story about dysfunctional leaders aboard or ashore? Tell us in confidence at, we’d like to hear what you have to say – and do share the post with your friends in the industry.

Confusion between rate of turn and rudder indicators, cultural insensitivity, the master’s insufficient English, a non-functioning AIS and VTS operators that did not react to the developing situation were key factors in the 12 July 2009 grounding of the Italian-registered chemical tanker Maria M says the Swedish Transport Agency report on the incident.

It was not a good start to the master’s first day in command of the vessel.

Continue reading »


Can You Help Make Designs Safer?

 maritime safety news  Comments Off on Can You Help Make Designs Safer?
Feb 282016

Bad design costs lives and ships and sealing wax, as many accident events show (See below). What is often lacking is design fo people to use, human-centred design, That applies as much to electronics equipment as it does to anything else aboard ship so an initiative by the Nautical Institute and marine electronics manufacturer organisation Comité International Radio-Maritime, CIRM, is to be welcomed.

The initiative aims to improve the usability of navigation and communication technology on board ships by getting mariners’ input, which brings together willing seafarers and interested manufacturers to ensure that designs are validated using human-centred design principles.

Continue reading »


Ever Smart/Alexandra 1: Eyeballs Took Eyes Off the Ball

 Accident, Accident Investigation, Accident report, collision, maritime safety news  Comments Off on Ever Smart/Alexandra 1: Eyeballs Took Eyes Off the Ball
Jan 272016

Accidents are often a team effort in which if one part of the team is on the ball the accident does not happen. So it was with the collision between the UK containership Ever Smart and the Marshall Islands registered oil tanker Alexandra 1 at Jebel Ali.

Says the report from the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch. MAIB: “The collision resulted from several factors. In particular, a passing arrangement was not agreed or promulgated and the actions of both masters were based on assumptions.

Continue reading »

Apr 082015

When it comes to safe navigation,
if you don’t ask a question right
you’re not asking the right question and
you won’t get the right answer.

Read the transcript

Continue reading »


Late Boom Led To Bridge Bash

 maritime safety news  Comments Off on Late Boom Led To Bridge Bash
Mar 312015

Britain’s State Opening of Parliament is a grand occasion, a splendid bash but for the tour boat Millenium Diamond it became a bash of a different sort as the vessel crunched into Tower Bridge with 126 passengers and 6 crew on board injuring ten people. Distraction, a poorly designed  PA system, a Boatmaster’s licence exam syllabus that did not test for the factors that led to the accident and unsecured stowage came together in a classic error chain reported in the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch, MAIB, report. Continue reading »