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Gibraltar´s Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) has enabled the Gibraltar Port Authority to strengthen its ability to co-ordinate vessel movements in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters (BGTW), thereby improving navigational safety standards whilst at the same time maintaining the efficiency of the Port.

The system, manned by the Gibraltar Port Authority´s team of VTS staff, has been operational since 2011 and allows for constant monitoring of all vessel movements both within and outside BGTW.   Gibraltar offers full vessel traffic services on a 24/7 basis, co-ordinating all ships in BGTW from the Operations Centre situated in the main Port Office.  The VTS staff have at their disposal a range of sensors to assist them in their work, including Radar and Automatic Identification System (AIS) with coverage stretching many miles out to sea, enabling them to check vessel movements well before their arrival.  The VTS operators can also use CCTV cameras with complete night-time thermal imaging, allowing for an impressive range throughout the night.

Whilst the system´s primary focus is on navigational safety, allowing VTS operators to de-conflict movements in busy BGTW, it also provides opportunities to maximise the use of the Port's space for commercial benefit. In line with international requirements, vessels are required to provide pre-arrival notification giving VTS staff the ability to organise vessel movements in advance with local companies and thus ensure maximum efficiency and minimum waiting times, with real-time movement information on vessel activity in and around the Port being readily available to shipping agents, pilots and other service providers.

Data relating to vessel traffic is administered electronically and used for both billing and information purposes for Port stakeholders. This information is also fed directly into the UK's Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) database, assisting a wider scope of authorities around the world to monitor vessel operations around their shores.

The VTS Centre also co-ordinates all full Search & Rescue (SAR) operations that are required to be undertaken within BGTW, as well as providing assistance to other Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centres (MRCC) around the world for Gibraltar registered vessels.

The VTS system also supports Gibraltar enforcement and maritime agencies to maintain the integrity of BGTW.

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