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Vessel Traffic Service (VTS)

The Norwegian Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) offers three types of services based on national regulations and international recommendations:

Information Service (INS)

This service shall provide important information at the right time to support the nautical decision-making processes on board. A vessel can request information, and the VTS centre can provide unsolicited information and ask the vessel questions if something is unclear. Information can include:

  • Information on the traffic situation, such as position, identity of the vessel, destination.
  • Meteorological and hydrographic information.
  • Relevant limitations or activities in the fairways.
  • Guidelines for mandatory reporting.
  • VHF channels that are used in the VTS area.

Navigation Assistance Service (NAS)

Navigation assistance is established either on request from a vessel or when the VTS operator observes irregular navigation and the VTS operator deems it necessary to intervene. The vessel and VTS centre will agree on when the navigation assistance service starts and stops. This service entails assistance that is linked closely to the vessel in question.

Examples of navigation assistance situations:

  • Difficult meteorological conditions.
  • Faulty or defective equipment on board.
  • Vessels that deviate from a sailing plan.
  • Assistance en route to an anchorage site or pilot embarkation buoy/area.
  • Risk of running aground or collision.
  • Vessel that is uncertain of its position, or not able to determine its position.

The VTS Centre can provide:

  • Bearing and distance to nearby hazards or landmarks.
  • Recommend a course to the next waypoint.
  • Position in relation to the fairway axis, navigation functions, and/or waypoints.
  • Provide support and information on the current traffic situation to the crew on the bridge.

Traffic Organisation (TOS)

The purpose of this service is to prevent hazardous situations from developing and to ensure safe and efficient navigation through the VTS area. The VTS centre provides information, advice and instructions to vessels. Vessels report before sailing into the VTS area, or when leaving an anchorage site or dock in order to avoid traffic congestion that can create critical situations.

The Maritime Traffic Regulations regulate, for example, meeting and passing bans, and granting a vessel clearance to sail into a VTS area. Clearance can be granted without conditions, but special conditions can also be stipulated through:

  • Use of special fairways.
  • Sailing in a specific order in relation to other traffic.
  • Clearance can be withheld when there is a valid reason for doing so.

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