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Tallinn Vessel Traffic Services system upgrade now live

3 min read

At the end of November, the Estonian Transport Administration (Transpordiamet) signed off on the Site Acceptance Test (SAT) for the upgrade of the Vessel traffic Services (VTS) system delivered by Saab. The upgrade brings a number of new features, the most notable being the STM or Sea Traffic Management module that allows end-to-end planning of vessel voyages. STM is important because it aims to lower accidents by 50%, voyage costs by 10% and fuel consumption by 7% in 2030 compared to 2015. The Estonian Transport Administration is a long-time customer of Saab, with the first order placed almost two decades ago.

Other new features are improved traffic display software for the working positions, new route management functionality, integration of AIS route exchange and some technical improvements such as further virtualisation of the software.

Challenging environment

Of all the ports listed in the World Port Index, Tallinn is among the 4.4% of the ports classified as a large port. However, the size itself does not tell the full story. The port handles a wide range of traffic, varying from fast ferries frequently going up and down to Sweden, Finland and Russia, to recreational sailors in rowing boats. Add to that the cargo and tankers in Muuga port on the other side of the Viimsi peninsula, and it can get quite busy for the VTS operators indeed.

On top of the traffic, there is quite a variation in seasons, with winter ice making a regular appearance. This affects radar performance, to which the VTS system automatically adapts. Tides are fortunately quite moderate with often only a meter of difference between high and low tide. Fortunate, because not only do large tidal differences often lead to strong currents, they also affect the dynamic position of the shoreline and the locations where it is safe to navigate.

Port of Tallinn, Estonia in winter time

Sea Traffic Management enters operational use

One of the main functions of STM is to enable sharing a ship’s intentions of movement, making the shore side a more proactive stakeholder who can  issue warnings and suggest actions to ships long before they end up in dangerous or inefficient situations. An essential part of this is the ability to share route information through the Automatic Identification System (AIS). All ships over 300 gross tonnes and passenger ships are required to have an AIS transponder onboard.

The next generation of AIS called VDES (VHF Data Exchange System) will allow the exchange of even more detailed information.

With this upgrade, the Tallinn VTS is fully prepared for the future.

Vessel Traffic Services at Tallinn control centre of the Estonian Transport Administration by night