Click on one of the VTS areas on the map to find out more information about it, find a link to its homepage and a link to its user manual.
The Vessel Traffic Center is located in a high rise office building in the New Orleans Central Business District. VTS LMR is a component of the Waterway Division of USCG Sector New Orleans. VTS Lower Mississippi River manages vessel traffic on one of the most hazardous waterway in the United States due to the complexity of the marine traffic and the powerful currents of the Mississippi River. Its area of responsibility spans from twenty miles above the Port of Baton Rouge (Mile 255 above the Head of the Passes) to twelve miles offshore of Southwest Pass Light in the Gulf of Mexico. Within this VTS service area the VTS monitors the Eighty One Mile Point Regulated Navigation Area (Mile 187.9 to Mile 167 Ahead of Passes) and the New Orleans Harbor Sector (Mile 106 to Mile 88). The VTS provides advisory and navigational assistance services at all times in these areas of responsibility. When the river reaches high water levels of eight feet in New Orleans, the VTS controls traffic at the Algiers Point Special Area (Mile 93.5 to Mile 95). VTS Lower Mississippi River is a unique Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Service because it maintains advisory service and direct control of vessel traffic with a workforce of highly trained and experienced civilian Coast Guard personnel with the assistance of pilot advisors.
The control center at Sector New York is located at Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island, NY. This VTS has the responsibility of coordinating vessel traffic movements in the busy ports of New York and New Jersey. The VTS New York area includes the entrance to the harbor via Ambrose and Sandy Hook Channels, through the Verrazano Narrows Bridge to the Throgs Neck Bridge in the East River, to the Holland Tunnel in the Hudson River, the Kill Van Kull including Newark Bay and all of Arthur Kill, and Raritan Bay.
The Vessel Traffic Center is located on Yerba Buena Island in San Francisco Bay. VTS San Francisco is responsible for the safety of vessel movements along approximately 133 miles of waterway from offshore to the ports of Stockton and Sacramento. On 3 May 1995, federal regulations went into effect establishing regulated navigation areas within the San Francisco Bay Region. These regulations, developed with input from the Harbor Safety Committee of the San Francisco Bay Region, were designed to improve navigation safety by organizing traffic flow patterns; reducing meeting, crossing, and overtaking situations in constricted channels; and by limiting vessels' speeds. VTS San Francisco also operates an Offshore Vessel Movement Reporting System (OVMRS). The OVMRS is completely voluntary and operates using a broadcast system with information provided by participants.
Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) Los Angeles-Long Beach (LA/LB) is jointly operated by the Coast Guard and Marine Exchange of LA/LB from the Vessel Traffic Center located in San Pedro. The VTS assists in the safe navigation of vessels approaching the ports of LA/LB in an area extending 25 miles out to sea from Point Fermin (LAT 33 42.3'N LONG 118 17.6'W). The LA/LB VTS developed a unique partnership with the state of California, the Coast Guard, the Ports of Los Angeles-Long Beach, the Marine Exchange, and the local maritime community. With start up funds provided by the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the VTS operations are supported by fees assessed against commercial vessels operating in the LA/LB area. VTS LA/LB came on line in March 1994.
The Vessel Traffic Center is located at Pier 36 in Seattle and monitors the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Rosario Strait, Admiralty Inlet, and Puget Sound south as far as Olympia. Since 1979, the U.S. Coast Guard has worked cooperatively with the Canadian Coast Guard in managing vessel traffic in adjacent waters. Through the Cooperative Vessel Traffic Service (CVTS), two Canadian Vessel Traffic Centers work hand in hand with Puget Sound Vessel Traffic Service. Prince Rupert MCTS (Marine Communications and Traffic Services) manages the area west of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. North of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, through Haro Strait, to Vancouver, B.C. is managed by VICTORIA MCTS. The three Vessel Traffic Centers communicate via a computer link and dedicated telephone lines to advise each other of vessels passing between their respective zones.
The Vessel Traffic Center is located at Sector Houston-Galveston in Southeast Houston. The VTS operating area includes the Houston Ship Channel from the sea buoy to the Buffalo Bayou Turning Basin, Galveston Channel, Texas City Channel, Bayport Ship Channel, Barbours Terminal Channel, and 10 miles of the ICW. The area contains more than 70 miles of restricted waterways. The main part of the Houston Ship Channel is 530 feet wide with a depth of 45 feet. Several bends in the channel are in excess of 90 degrees.
The Vessel Traffic Center is located in Valdez. The Coast Guard has installed a dependent surveillance system to improve its ability to track tankers transiting Prince William Sound and requires these vessels to carry position and identification reporting equipment. The ability to supplement radar with dependent surveillance bridges the gap in areas where conditions dictate some form of surveillance and where radar coverage is impractical. Once the dependent surveillance information is returned to the vessel traffic center, it is integrated with radar data and presented to the watchstander on an electronic chart display. VTS Prince William Sound is required by The Trans- Alaska Pipeline Authorization Act (Public Law 93-153), pursuant to authority contained in Title 1 of the Ports and Waterways Safety Act of 1972 (86 Stat. 424, Public Law 92-340). The southern terminus of the pipeline is on the south shoreline of the Port of Valdez, at the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company tanker terminal. Port Valdez is at the north end of Prince William Sound, and Cape Hinchinbrook is at the south entrance. Geographically, the area is comprised of deep open waterways surrounded by mountainous terrain.
On March 6, 1896, Title 33 USC 474 directed the Commandant of the Revenue Cutter Service to prescribe appropriate rules and regulations regarding the movement and anchorage of vessels and rafts in the St Marys River from Point Iroquois on Lake Superior to Point Detour on Lake Huron. This marked the beginning of the St Marys River Vessel Traffic Service (VTS). Originally named the River Patrol Service, this fledgling VTS operation was initially comprised of the Revenue Cutter MORRELL and Lookout Stations at Johnson's Pt (#1), Middle Neebish Dyke (#2) and Little Rapids Cut (#3). The stations were connected by telegraph lines linked back to the Pittsburgh Steamship Company offices in Sault Sainte Marie, MI. “Soo Control”, the call sign for the original traffic management control center, evolved into a vessel movement reporting system which relied heavily on mariners to provide information on traffic flow and hazards. Formerly renamed the Vessel Traffic Service in 1975, VTS St. Marys River was initially a voluntary vessel movement reporting system. In October 1994 it became a mandatory system operating year round with an area of responsibility encompassing the entire length of the St. Mary's River (Approx. 80 miles). The St Marys River is a complex waterway. It features strong currents, wind driven water level fluctuations and narrow channels which challenge the most seasoned of navigators. Within the VTS area the water level drops approx. 21 feet from the level of Lake Superior to the level of the lower lakes. Thus, the Soo Locks were constructed and are presently maintained by the Corps of Engineers. In most of the areas of the river there is adequate room for vessels to maneuver or anchor during periods of low visibility, or when other problems hinder safe navigation. However, there are three areas extremely hazardous to transit or anchor in low visibility: West Neebish Channel (down-bound traffic only), Middle Neebish Channel (Up-bound traffic only), and Little Rapids Cut (two-way traffic). During periods of low visibility it is customary to close the entire river. Today VTS St. Marys River, a sub unit of Sector Sault Sainte Marie, maintains close alliances with their Canadian counterparts in Sarnia Ontario, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Great Lakes Maritime Industry. Coordination among these key players is paramount particularly during the ice breaking season. Each winter when plate ice can reach a thickness of three to five feet, the cooperation and exchange of information fostered by these corporate and governmental partnerships is the key to the safe and efficient movement of commercial interests.
The Vessel Traffic Center is located at Coast Guard Marine Safety Office Morgan City, LA. VTS Berwick Bay manages vessel traffic on one of the most hazardous waterways in the United States due to strong currents and a series of bridges that must be negotiated by inland tows traveling between Houston, Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Its area of responsibility encompasses the junction of the Atchafalaya River (an outflow of the Mississippi River), the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, the Port Allen-Morgan City Alternate Route and several tributary bayous. Narrow bridge openings and a swift river current require the VTS to maintain one-way traffic flow through the bridges. During seasonal high water periods, the VTS enforces towing regulations that require inland tows transiting the bridges to have a minimum amount of horsepower based on the length of tow. VTS Berwick Bay is unique among Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Services because it maintains direct control of vessel traffic.
The Vessel Traffic Center is located at Coast Guard Group Ohio Valley in Louisville, KY. VTS Louisville is a vessel movement reporting system designed to enable vessel operators to better cope with problems encountered during high water on the Ohio River between miles 592.0 and 606.0. The VTS has four cameras surveying the waterway. It monitors traffic via VHF Channel 13 communications only. The VTS is activated when the upper river gauge at the McAlpine Lock and Dam is approximately 13.0 feet and rising. It remains in 24-hour operation until the upper river gauge falls below 13.0 feet. River conditions vary widely, especially during springtime. A series of thunderstorms can, at times, necessitate activation of the VTS in a matter of hours.
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The Vessel Traffic Center at Sector St. Petersburg is located in the Tampa Port Authority's Security Building in Tampa, FL. The VTS has the responsibility of coordinating vessel traffic movements in the busy ports of Tampa, Manatee, and St. Petersburg. VTS Tampa's area includes the entrance to Tampa Bay via Egmont and Mullet Key Channels, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, Old Tampa Bay, Hillsborough Bay, and the waters surrounding MacDill Air Force Base.
The Port Arthur Vessel Traffic Center is located at Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit, Port Arthur, TX. VTS Port Arthur actively monitors all waters of the Sabine-Neches Waterway to Port Arthur, Beaumont, and Orange, TX, including the offshore fairway to the sea buoy, the east/west crossing offshore fairway extending 12 miles on either side of the main channel, and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway from mile 260 to mile 295. This area is home to the Ports of Port Arthur, Beaumont, and Orange, Texas. Additionally, it is the home of four large oil refineries, two Liquefied Natural Gas terminals, twenty-five percent of the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserves, and the largest commercial military outload port in the U.S.