Vessel Traffic Services recognised in inaugural awards

AMSA Media release with bottom of the sea image

Hay Point Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) Operator Warren Bath has been recognised for his coordination of an incident involving a bulk carrier by the inaugural VTS award.

Mr Bath was nominated for the award after coordinating the response action of allied services including tugs, port pilots and helicopter operators when reports came through of a bulk carrier drifting 20 metres off the berth at 1am on 21 April 2019. 

Within ten minutes of receiving the call, the ship had turned 90 degrees to the berth and in danger of being damaged, and causing damage to its surroundings. 

Mr Bath’s quick response ensured the vessel was brought back alongside within three and a half hours with no damage to the bulk carrier, other ships berthed at the port, the offshore terminal infrastructure or pollution event.

Two other nominations have been highly commended.

Port Hedland VTS were commended for the successful response after receiving a call from the Cape Reliance reporting people clinging to a drifting upturned boat. The strong currents were rapidly pushing the capsized boat and the desperate men further out to sea. 

The VTS coordinated police and marine rescue crews, including a pilot boat and marine pilot transfer helicopter from the port, to assist with the search and rescue.

Four people were rescued from the water within two hours of the initial report, after spending nearly seven hours in the water.

Todd Stewart and Ricky Blake from Brisbane VTS received commendations for coordinating local vessels to assist in the search for a sinking recreational craft off Caloundra Headland in the middle of the night on 9 June 2019. They called on ships anchored in the vicinity of a search mission to help widen the search area. 

Incredibly, the master of a tanker in the area radioed VTS and reported seeing people in the water south of the ship in the morning light. Mr Stewart and Mr Blake relayed this information to Queensland Water Police resulting in the rescue of two adults and a child.

The Australian VTS Award was launched in December 2019 to recognise an outstanding contribution by a VTS to the safety of life at sea, safety and efficiency of navigation and protection of the marine environment which is beyond their normal operational scope. 

VTSs are akin to air traffic control for ships. They provide for the safe and efficient movement of ships and help prevent dangerous traffic situations. The award provides national recognition to those involved in vessel traffic services in Australia while also raising the profile of the 15 VTSs across Australia that manage traffic in ports and surrounding waterways. The award also recognises VTS personnel and the important services they provide among stakeholders and wider industry.

Nominations for the 2020-21 Australian VTS Award will open on 1 October 2020.


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