In 1985 IMO adopted resolution A.578 (14) Guidelines for Vessel Traffic Services, which said that VTS was particularly appropriate in the approaches and access channels of a port as well as in areas having high traffic density, movements of noxious or dangerous cargoes, navigational difficulties, narrow channels, or environmental sensitivity. The Guidelines also clarified that decisions concerning effective navigation and maneuvering of the vessel remained with the ship's master.
Revised Guidelines for vessel traffic services, including Guidelines on Recruitment, Qualifications, and Training of VTS Operators, were adopted as Assembly resolution A.857(20) in November 1997.
Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) are shore-based systems. They provide simple information to vessels (e.g., positions), as well as meteorological hazard warnings up to extensive traffic management within a port or waterway.
SOLAS Chapter V (International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea) states:
that the contracting governments should establish VTS where traffic volume or risks justify it
VTS to follow guidelines adopted by IMO
VTS can only be mandatory in territorial seas
vessels to be encouraged by Administrations to use VTS
”Warnemünde Traffic” continuously controls all movements between the approach buoy and the Rostock harbors and should be contacted via VHF ch 73 as soon as
possible (normally two hours before approaching buoy).