Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) what do they do?

Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) - What to they do?

Polish coastline - areas of responsibility of the Local Maritime Offices
Picture: Area of VTS responsibilities along Polish coastline

In 2021, the IMO VTS (Vessel Traffic Services) Guidelines were reviewed and updated after considering various organizational, operational, and technological changes since the previous version from 1997.

Governments worldwide have implemented VTS centers to communicate effectively with ships, quickly respond to developing situations, and improve navigational safety.

The VTS centers, located in three Polish cities: Gdynia, Szczecin, and Slupsk, are the first to greet all vessels calling at Polish ports. The VTS organizational structure also includes a rescue (SAR) component with command centers in Gdynia and Świnoujście.

The VTS services are legally obliged to report a situation that clearly breaches the regulations or raises reasonable suspicion that such a breach has occurred. The attitude of the master himself is equally important. If he is non-cooperative and persistently fails to comply with the recommendations of the VTS duty officer, the likelihood of such a report being issued is close to certainty. It usually also results in a PSC (Port State Control) visit on board immediately after berthing.

It is worth mentioning that, in addition to tools such as radars, AIS receivers, or radio rangefinders (RDF), VTS operators are also equipped with long-range cameras with an effective zoom range of up to 7 nautical miles.

Source: Own elaboration,

More information:

Polish Maritime Office – website


Social Media

Logo of Polish Shipbrokers' Association