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Safe future for Shipping on the Thames.

Three staff from the Port of London Authority (PLA) Vessel Traffic Services are amongst the first in the UK to pass the internationally approved course V-103 for Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) operators, with flying colours at the first attempt.

The three staff, Gary Durkin from Gravesend, Graham Negus from Maidstone and Steve Hearn from Bowers Gifford in Essex have successfully completed the full training and assessment package, which includes a course at South Tyneside College, near Newcastle. South Tyneside is the only college in the UK officially approved by the Maritime and Coast Guard Agency (MCA). The PLA Officers are strictly assessed during their on-the-job training and for local knowledge. PLA Chief Harbour Master Rear Admiral Bruce Richardson presented the three with their certificates at a brief ceremony in the PLA Control Centre.

He said, " The application of international standards to the training and assessment of VTS operators will make a major contribution to navigational safety around the world. The Port of London was instrumental in helping to develop these standards and is now amongst the first in the UK to apply them. I congratulate our operators on their success and for having achieved this new and internationally recognised professional qualification".

The course, which has been developed by the International Association of Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) and endorsed by the International Maritime Organisation, includes personal study and tutorials in all the specialist skills required in VTS. These include the use of "state of the art" radar, VHF radio equipment and automatic identification systems. Communications skills and procedures, emergency response training and traffic co-ordination procedures are also included. In addition, they have also received tutorials on maritime and nautical knowledge so as to underpin and enhance the effectiveness of the training.


Notes to editors.
1/ 27,000 ship movements are recorded through the port of London in a year, not including the many hundreds of thousands of small craft, work boats, pleasure boats and private leisure craft that sail in the Ports waters.

2/ The Vessel Traffic System Operators work a 12 hour shift providing a 24 hour watch over the Thames and its estuary from the two control centres, London Port Control Centre at Gravesend and the Thames Barrier Navigation Centre. The newly certificated officers are stationed at Gravesend.