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30.11.2004

Major upgrade of London Port Control Centre

A major upgrade of the Port Control Centre which manages the movement of all ships arriving at and departing from London is now in place. The Port of London Authority (PLA), which is responsible for navigational safety on the Thames, has spent around £1 million on the modernisation. The upgraded centre was today formally opened by Mrs Gwyneth Dunwoody MP, Chairman of the House of Commons Transport Committee.

The Port Control Centre (PCC) - situated on the Thames at Gravesend - provides the VTS (Vessel Traffic Services) system for the Port of London area which includes the Thames Estuary. This not only tracks ships on their voyages in and out of London, but also enables the PLA to offer navigational advice, weather and tidal information, and other vital safety guidance.

Key features of the upgrade include:

  • comprehensive update of computer software and equipment  
  • Improved layout and new display screens for operators
  • new VHF radio arrangements
  • greater use of CCTV monitoring

The capabilities of the Port Control Centre are also now a key component in security arrangements for London. The latest enhancements integrate the Automated Identification System (AIS) within London’s VTS system. All ships (over 300 gt) are required by the International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) Code to carry AIS by 31 December 2004.

Commenting, Bruce Richardson, PLA chief harbour master said:

“The Port of London Authority handles the movement of about 100 commercial ships each day. The ability to monitor and track vessel traffic accurately and reliably is a fundamental component of navigational safety. These enhancements to our Port Control Centre enable us to meet the known and anticipated challenges of the next decade.”      

Further information – or photographs - contact: Martin Garside, Port of London (Tel: 020 7743 7915. Mobile 07736 362385)

Note to Editors:

The Port of London Authority is the port authority for 150km (95 miles) of the tidal Thames from the sea to Teddington. It provides navigational, pilotage and other services for ships using the Port of London. London is one of the top three ports in the UK and handles over 50 million tonnes of cargo each year. The Port of London comprises over 70 independently owned and operated terminals and port facilities, which handle a wide range of cargoes. London is also an increasingly popular destination for international cruise ships.