Busy first half of the year at VTS Finland’s vessel traffic centres – almost 170 incidents recorded
VTS centres, which look after the safety of maritime traffic, had a record busy first half of the year in terms of the number of incidents. The VTS centres of VTS Finland recorded almost 170 incidents related to vessel traffic between January and June. The figure also includes preventing four possible groundings and two instances of navigation assistance.
Incidents were recorded in all of the seven VTS areas off the Finnish coast and in the Saimaa deep fairway.
- The number of reported deviations increased by 15% from the corresponding period last year. This is mainly due to the ice-breaker services in the Gulf of Bothnia, which had to be interrupted exceptionally often last winter, due to weather and ice conditions, as well as increased speed limit surveillance in Saimaa, says Kati Westerlund, VTS Finland’s Quality Manager, about the first half of the year.
Vessel traffic services are offered on the Finnish coast 24/7 throughout the year, and all vessels of a minimum length of 24 metres must use the service.
- The point of departure in our VTS centres is to ensure safe, smooth maritime traffic and thereby protect our fragile maritime environment from maritime accidents. The Baltic Sea is one of the busiest maritime areas in the world, so the Gulf of Finland, for example, has approximately 36,000 vessel calls a year, and the transversal traffic between Helsinki and Tallinn has about 20 departures a day. Helsinki, which is known as one of the world’s busiest passenger ports, also attracts almost 300 cruise ship calls every summer, says Sari Talja, Chief Operating Officer of VTS Finland.
VTS has already prevented four possible groundings during the first half of the year
Most of the incidents recorded by VTS Finland’s VTS centres were due to engine problems and technical faults as well as failures of electricity supply, which numbered almost one fifth of all deviations. Other reported deviations involved speeding, reporting failures as well as pilotage and icebreaking services. It should also be noted that the VTS centres prevented a total of four possible groundings and gave navigation assistance two times during the first half of the year.
- In all the cases where possible grounding was prevented, it involved a situation where the vessel was clearly heading towards a shallow and changed its course after it was contacted by our VTS centre. Two possible groundings were prevented in the area of the Archipelago Sea and two others in the Kotka VTS area, says Kati Westerlund about the reporting statistics from the first half of the year.
VTS Finland’s VTS centres are situated in Helsinki, Turku and Lappeenranta. The Gulf of Finland VTS centre in Helsinki monitors vessel traffic, covering Finland’s national waters from Hanko to Santio on the eastern border as well as the international waters of the Gulf of Finland. The Western Finland VTS centre in Turku, in turn, monitors vessel traffic in Finland’s national waters from the Archipelago Sea to Tornio and in the southern part of the routing system of the Sea of Åland. In addition, the VTS centre in Lappeenranta monitors the Saimaa deep fairway. When navigating in the VTS area, vessels are required to maintain a continuous listening watch on the working channel used in the area and follow regulations concerning traffic in the VTS area.