Vessel Traffic Services
The provisions on vessel traffic services are laid down in the Vessel Traffic Service Act and in the Government Decree on Vessel Traffic Service.
Participation in Vessel Traffic Services
Vessels of 24 metres in length overall or more are obliged to participate in the vessel traffic services. When navigating in the VTS area, vessels are required to maintain a continuous listening watch on the working channel used in the area. Furthermore, vessels are obliged to obey the rules relevant to the traffic in the VTS area.
Vessels navigating in the VTS area, which are not obliged to participate in the vessel traffic services, are recommended to maintain a listening watch on the working channel in the VTS area or sector in question.
Operational hours and location of VTS centres
In Finland the vessel traffic services (VTS services) are operated by Fintraffic Vessel Traffic Services Ltd (Fintraffic VTS). VTS centres are located in Turku, Helsinki and Lappeenranta.
The sea areas at the Finnish coast are divided into six VTS areas. These are Bothnia VTS, West Coast VTS, Archipelago VTS, Hanko VTS, Helsinki VTS and Kotka VTS. In addition, Saimaa VTS operates in the Saimaa deep water fairway.
Along the coast VTS services are provided 24 h/day throughout the year. There may be operational interruptions due to technical problems or an unexpected shortage of personnel. Information about the interruptions is given as navigational or local warnings. Saimaa VTS only provides services during its operational period. The operational period is largely equivalent to the opening hours of the Saimaa Canal, but Fintraffic VTS will provide information about when the operational period begins and ends.
Services provided by the VTS centres
Vessel traffic services include information, navigational assistance and traffic organization.
VTS Areas along the coast provide all three service levels as described below. Saimaa VTS provides the service Information. The services provided in the different VTS areas are described in the regional Master’s Guides.
To improve safety and to create a consistent maritime situational awareness, English is used as the primary communication language in the VTS areas along the Finnish coast. As required, vessel traffic services are provided also in Finnish, Swedish and English.
If a vessel has been granted a Pilot Exemption Certificate or it has been granted exemption from compulsory pilotage, the master of the vessel shall, upon entry into a VTS area, report the number of the exemption to the VTS centre. This report can also be submitted in advance. An advance notice can be made for several voyages at the same time.
Finnpilot Pilotage Ltd is responsible for the pilotage in Finland, see www.finnpilot.fi/en.
Pilot orders shall be submitted to Finnpilot’s Pilot Dispatch Centre, https://finnpilot.fi/en/for-customers/pilot-dispatch/. Pilotage order form: www.pilotorder.fi.