'Hiding Behind Tradition?' Should U.S. Vessel Traffic Centers Exercise Greater Direction and Control over Vessels in their Area?
Tulane Maritime Law Journal, Vol. 34, pp. 91-152, 2009
85 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2009 Last revised: 24 Dec 2011
Date Written: August 19, 2009
In the aftermath of the 2007 Cosco Busan allision and oil spill, some asked whether Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Service operators monitoring the developing incident should have intervened to explicitly warn the vessel or even order it to take avoiding action. The controversy called to mind a speech by a former IMO secretary-general in which he suggested that those resisting greater shore-based control were 'hiding behind tradition.' In its investigation of the Cosco Busan incident, the National Transportation Safety Board urged the Coast Guard to better define its expectations regarding the exercise of VTS control authority and several legislators joined in bills to 'clarify' the VTS authority to direct a vessel to change its course or speed. This article examines existing international materials, federal legislation, regulations and Coast Guard policies on VTS services and concludes that additional legislation is neither necessary nor wise. It also concludes, however, that current VTS regulations and policies should be amended to better conform to international guidance documents and standardized terminology. Additionally, VTS operator and supervisor qualification and training programs should be expanded to ensure competency across the entire continuum of vessel traffic management activities.
Keywords: VTS, Vessel Traffic Management, Cosco Busan Allision, Risk Management, Coast Guard, IMO, IALA, Collisions
JEL Classification: K23, K33, L92
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation