Vessel Traffic Service screen

Vessel Traffic Service Operators

Our vessel traffic services operators (VTSOs) are an integral part of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and are based at our Coastguard operations centre in Dover.

Vessel traffic service operators

The role of a vessel traffic service operator (VTSO) involves taking mandatory ship reports from vessels navigating within the service area, as well as gathering key information in relation to cargo, passengers and vessel damage or defects to ensure they are compliant with both national and international maritime regulations and able to safely continue their passage.

A Vessel Traffic Service Operator working at the Coastguard Operations Centre in Dover.

Responsibilities of a VTSO:

  • Delivery of a vessel traffic service as defined by the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) recommendations and guidelines to vessels navigating in the service area to ensure compliance with all local, national and international regulations.
  • Working as part of a team to manage day-to-day operations to provide a high and effective standard of VTS service delivery.
  • Planning, prioritising and managing work based on dynamic risk assessments, and ensuring resources are available for both forecast and actual demand.
  • Balancing work against resource and recommending additional staff or assistance from other teams to provide suitable coverage.
  • Implementing sound leadership, management and direction within a team, and ensuring safe working practices are maintained.

VTSOs are faced with a multitude of interesting and varied situations – from a compliant vessel just passing through to ships that have run aground, a passenger ferry dealing with a fire, loss of pollutant cargo overboard or even managing vessels safely around swimmers in the English Channel.

We will advertise any vacancies for senior coastal operations officers on Civil Service Jobs. We therefore advise checking on there regularly for any opportunities.

Report a problem with this page

Help us improve

Don't include personal or financial information like your National Insurance number or credit card details.