London leads in VTS training
The PLA plans to run courses
throughout the year
(click on image to enlarge)
In a first for Britain, the Port of London Authority (PLA) has launched a unique new training programme for Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) professionals from ports across the UK and overseas.
The new courses utilise not only the PLA’s VTS and ships’ bridge simulators, but also its VTS control centres and patrol boats to train tomorrow’s port safety staff.
Kevin Gregory, the PLA’s vessel traffic services manager, said:
“What makes these courses unique in the UK is that we don’t just provide the classroom training element. We’re also plugged into a busy working port - using state-of-the-art VTS equipment and simulators, as well our fleet of patrol boats.
“Candidates therefore also get to talk directly with PLA experts including harbourmasters, pilots, launch crews and qualified VTS staff – putting flesh on what’s in the text books.”
The courses cover a wide range of key matters, including traffic management, communication coordination, equipment and emergency scenarios. Candidates also get to put the theory and case studies into practice using the state-of-the-art VTS simulator, as well as visiting the control rooms of London VTS and completing tasks on the river.
The port authority originally planned a series of refresher courses to keep VTS staff at the top of their profession. But interest from around the world has prompted the PLA to expand its courses for those starting from scratch and now runs a full VTS Operator training course – known as IALA V-103/1.
“We’ve had VTSOs from a wide range of both UK and overseas ports on the refresher courses, so expanding the training programme for new entrants to the profession is a natural progression”, explained Kevin Gregory.
All the PLA courses are approved by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA), so the qualifications are also recognised around the world through the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities.
The PLA plans to run both refresher and V-103/1 VTS operator courses regularly throughout the year. It is also planning to run V-103/2 VTS supervisor courses for those wishing to progress their careers to lead and manage VTS operations.
PLA VTS staff are crucial to both marine safety and efficient commercial operations - helping ensure the safe and efficient movement of vessels on the challenging and busy tidal Thames. The PLA employs about forty VTS staff - responsible for managing traffic and advising vessels on 400 square miles of waterway each year.