E-Bulletin June 2024

Seminar on IMO Resolution A.857(20) for Vessel Traffic Services

The International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) is hosting a Seminar on updating IMO Resolution A.857(20), Guidelines for Vessel Traffic Services, in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France, 26-27 June 2019.

Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) are recognised internationally as a navigational safety measure through the International Convention on the Safety of Life at Sea 74/78 (SOLAS).

In 1997, the IMO adopted Resolution A.857(20) on Guidelines for Vessel Traffic Services, recognising that:

  • The safety and efficiency of maritime traffic and the protection of the marine environment would be improved if vessel traffic services were established and operated in accordance with internationally approved guidelines; and
  • The use of differing VTS procedures may cause confusion to masters of vessels moving from one vessel traffic service area to another.

The Resolution describes the principles and general provisions for the operation of a VTS, participating vessels, the roles and responsibilities of Contracting Governments, Competent Authorities and VTS Authorities, and qualifications and training of VTS Operators.

Since the entry into force of the Resolution twenty years ago, various organisational, operational and technological developments have taken place globally in a rapidly changing maritime domain.  This has rendered important parts of the Resolution open to differing interpretation, resulting in debate amongst stakeholders and a reduced ability to implement the Guidelines for VTS in a consistent and harmonised manner.

The Maritime Safety Committee, at its 99th session in 2018, agreed to include in its post-biennial agenda an output on “Revision of the Guidelines for vessel traffic services (Resolution A.857(20))”, assigning the task to the Navigation, Communication and Search and Rescue (NCSR) Sub-Committee as the coordinating organ.

IALA, through the expertise of the VTS Committee, is taking a coordinating role in the update and is preparing a revised Resolution for consideration by the IMO.

The purpose of the Seminar is to:

  • Facilitate discussion and active engagement amongst stakeholders in preparing a draft revision of the Resolution for submission to the IMO.
  • Provide the opportunity to broaden the participation and engagement in preparing a draft revision, particularly with IMO members who may not have been involved in the preparation of the submission to IMO (MSC99/20/3).
  • Assist the IALA VTS Committee in finalising the draft revision for submission to NCSR7 in late 2019.

Registration is available here:

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