Vessel Traffic Services
The main assignment of the Shipping Assistance Division of the Agency for Maritime and Coastal Services is to ensure safe and smooth maritime transport to and from Flemish and Zeelandic ports. To this end maritime transport from the French-Belgian border is tracked visually, auditively and electronically through Vessel Traffic Services (VTS). VTS guidelines have been determined by IMO (International Maritime Organization) and IALA (International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities).
Scheldt Radar Chain (SRC)
The most important VTS instrument in Flanders is the Scheldt Radar Chain. The system is jointly managed with the Netherlands and consists of 5 manned traffic management centres, complemented by 22 unmanned radar tower. Geographically the SRC covers an area of 150 kilometres: on the North Sea from the French border to Domburg, and on the Scheldt from Vlissingen to the Kallo lock.
The traffic control leaders identify all sea vessels that enter the VTS area, so all partners automatically receive an overview of the expected traffic.
In the Scheldt area 8 new radar towers will be added. The technical realisation is ongoing and will improve safety and efficiency.
Vessel Traffic Services can be compared with air traffic control of airports. As signalling for maritime transport light signals are used in maritime ports. In the past classic lighting tecniques using neon tube lights were used. More recently, a switch is made to LED lighting, consuming less energy and with a longer lifespan.
The technical activities of the Shipping Assistance Division demand international alignment. The Agency for Maritime and Coastal Services takes up a leading role in linking information systems of Flemish maritime ports, VTS and MRCC data bases with SafeSeaNet, the European maritime information network.
More information is available on the website concerning shipping assistance .