SUNBIZ

Captain Calls For Tighter Traffic System

The captain of one of the international regular ships to our shores has called for the introduction of a Vessel Traffic System. Pacific Islander II Captain Michael Flores made these
27 May 2015 08:54
Captain Calls For Tighter Traffic System
The crew members and officers of Pacific Islander II. Photo: Ranoba Baoa

The captain of one of the international regular ships to our shores has called for the introduction of a Vessel Traffic System.

Pacific Islander II Captain Michael Flores made these comments after his ship sounded its whistle several times at a boat believed to be fishing at the entrance of Suva Harbour.

Captain Flores said: “I think in Fiji ports communication is good, light is good but  think there should be a VTS.

“The harbour control must monitor also the passage. At times there are a lot of fishing boats which becomes very hard for us to detect at entrance.”

Harbour control and services is looked after by the Harbour Master which falls under the jurisdiction of Fiji Ports Corporation Limited.

Captain Flores said while the boat was alerted within the nick-of-time it could have fatal had the crew members not detected the boat on the 17134-tonne multi-purpose vessel.

“You don’t have enough space to maneuver, the two sides are shallow water, reefs.

“But the fishing boats, the fishers are just staying in the middle.

“Maybe if the harbour control can have a good radar control so they can monitor the area, this would help lift of profile of your port services.”

No VTS but system in place

In response Harbour Master Captain Laisiasa Gonewai said the Fiji Ports Corporation Limited does not have a VTS as it was too costly.

On top of this, they have not received any report of collision or near miss and maintain a zero-collision record.

“The communication system set up we have at the tower is adequate to monitor and control all vessel movement within a 16 nautical mile range,” Captain Laisiasa said.

“The declared ports around Fiji are too small and are not that busy to be VTS compliance. It is very expensive to install and operate.

But Fiji Ports is currently upgrading all communication equipment and have already installed an AIS SYSTEM – (Automated Vessel Identification Tracking System), he added

This monitors all vessel within a 16-nautical mile range.

“FPCL is doing a cost/benefit an analysis for the  installation of VTIS and budget has been allocated for this purpose.

“Further, if a Ship Master has experienced any near miss then it is Master’s responsibility to inform the Harbour Master’s office to take any preventative action /precautionary measures.”

What is VTS?

A vessel traffic service (VTS) is a marine traffic monitoring system established by harbour or port authorities, similar to air traffic control for aircraft.

Typical VTS systems use radar, closed-circuit television (CCTV), VHF radiotelephony and automatic identification system to keep track of vessel movements and provide navigational safety in a limited geographical area.

 

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