Wednesday 13th Dec, 2017

Queensland’s VTS is getting an upgrade

Lads Passage inner route. Image: Jim Wilson and Google Earth
Lads Passage inner route. Image: Jim Wilson and Google Earth

QUEENSLAND is getting a slick new vessel traffic services (VTS) system.

The state government has announced a $36m investment to replace the old REEFVTS shipping control system.

Ports minister Mark Bailey said the new “VTS – Decision Support Tool” (VTS-DST) would be a major upgrade and would help meet modern demands of international shipping and environmental safeguards.

Mr Bailey said the contract to design and install the VTS-DST was awarded to Brisbane-based Australian Maritime Systems Group (AMSG) and SAAB Technologies after a global competitive tendering process.

The core of the new system will be the V3000 traffic management and information system built by SAAB Technologies and operated by many of the world’s major ports, including Rotterdam, Hong Kong and Shanghai, as well as several Australian ports.

The system will receive information from radar, CCTV, meteorological sensors and automatic identification system (AIS) signals from ships via satellite or radio communications.

“The new system will replace the REEFVTS shipping control system, which has successfully protected the Great Barrier Reef since 2004, at the five port control VTS systems at Brisbane, Cairns, Townsville, Gladstone and Hay Point,” he said.

Maritime Safety Queensland general manager Patrick Quirk said the new system would give VTS operators the clearest and most up-to-date picture they had ever seen of ships passing through the Great Barrier Reef.

“It will also help predict and warn of potential problems – enabling authorities and captains to plan even safer journeys,” he said.

It is expected the system upgrade will be implemented in a staged approach over the next two years.

Acting minister for the Great Barrier Reef Mick de Brenni said for the first six months of this year around 9500 ship movements were undertaken in Queensland ports and another 5400 reef voyages were undertaken – all without serious incident.

“Our investment will enable even more effective monitoring of ship traffic throughout the Great Barrier Reef, Torres Strait and Queensland ports,” he said.

AMSG managing director John Sugarman said there were few places on Earth as beautiful and precious as the Great Barrier Reef – or as challenging for shipping.

“Our system will give VTS operators the clearest and most up-to-date picture they have ever seen of shipping passing through the Great Barrier Reef,” he said.

This past April, AMSG was also awarded the contract to design and install a new VTS system at Port Hedland on behalf of Pilbara Ports Authority.

And in June the company was awarded a contract by Chevron Australia to design and install a new VTS system to manage shipping to and from the Gorgon Project on Barrow Island, 60km off the coast of Western Australia.

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