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When arriving in a port, complementary to her AIS signal (encoded VHF message) it seems that the vessel also has to emit a voice message on a predifined VHF frequency to identify herself as part of the VTS process (Vessel Tracking System).

Is it something codified for all ports ? Which information are given ? only name/imo/callsign ? destination berth ?cargo on board ? Is it legal to listen to those messages ? Specifically for the US ?

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Is it something codified for all ports ? Which information are given ? only name/imo/callsign ? destination berth ?cargo on board ?

I believe this is something which could differ from port to port. Lets take an arbitrary port of Larne

It has two VTS documents available for download.

It specifies that there is a pre-arrival comms (section 3.1):

  • Acknowledge call
  • Receive vessel’s information; ETA, draft, PEC, Hazardous Cargo, defects or deficiencies;
  • Inform vessel of traffic movements, weather status, berthing or anchoring arrangements.

It also specifies that there are other responsibilities for the VTS operational staff, once the vessel has arrived in the VTS controlled area of the port:

  • Track and monitor vessels entering the Larne VTS area;
  • Check vessel complies with reporting requirements;
  • Advise vessel of Pilot boarding position, time and order of boarding - if applicable;
  • Advise of anchorage position - if applicable;
  • Advise vessel of relevant traffic situation;
  • Advise vessel of any navigational/ fairway information;
  • Advise vessel of weather and tidal information.

If you take another arbitrary port of Dover different information is available, and the procedures are slightly different. Dover is a very busy port, so different VTS processes are required for Commercial Vessels vs small craft. You can find the procedures on the website indicated.

I would believe the answer to your questions is: no, it is not 'codified' for all ports, it varies from port to port, and it is the responsibility of the master of the vessel to be familiar with the correct procedure prior to entering the port's VTS controlled area.

Is it legal to listen to those messages in the USA?

I will let someone more familiar with USA legislation answer that question.

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  • $\begingroup$ I edited the question for USA $\endgroup$ – Go4It Oct 27 '16 at 10:08
  • $\begingroup$ answer updated. $\endgroup$ – Edwin van Mierlo Oct 27 '16 at 12:10

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