VTS & Maritime Surveillance Issues & Solutions

Cost Benefit Analysis

The IALA VTS Manual states that the benefits derived from VTS can be of considerable value and, when properly implemented, outweigh the cost of provision. A VTS can significantly improve the efficiency of Vessel Traffic movements and thereby enable the port to increase the utilisation of its facilities and increase the return on their total investment. However, as already discussed, the implementation of a VTS can minimise risks and reduce accidents and thereby avoid the costs associated with rectifying the situation that follows an accident. These costs are more difficult to accurately assess.

When the MSC Chitra collided with the MV Khalijia at the entrance to Mumbai Port if August 2010 the result was that the Mumbai Port and Jawaharlal Nehru Port were closed for a five days while the incident, including a large Oil Spill and 293 drifting containers, was cleared up. The closure of a port involves a substantial loss of revenue and therefore if an improved VTS, possibly with improved communications, could help to prevent such accidents, the investment cost could be justified.

To begin the process of Cost Benefit Analysis, the port will initially need to complete a risk assessment. All risks should be identified and attributed a probability factor and a financial value can be derived to quantify the costs incurred should the risk actually occur. Risks can also be assessed on the wider basis of their Political, Economic, Social and Technological impact and, again, each can be assigned a financial value to represent the cost of the risk actually occurring. All of these costs can be assessed and an annual risk cost can be derived. Following the risk assessment, the risk reduction associated with the implementation of a VTS system can also be quantified on the same basis to derive a risk reduction benefit cost. A VTS System has a typical in service life of 10 years including a mid life upgrade (to replace PCs etc..) and therefore will be deemed to be a worthwhile investment wherever the Risk Reduction Benefit Cost exceeds the cost of acquisition.

Measuring Benefit

Air Traffic Control systems record “near miss” events when aircraft are closer than the minimum separation defined by the FAA / CAA. Without similar information, can a VTS system provide the appropriate management information for the VTS Authority to enable it to truly assess safety within the VTS area? Is the Vessel Traffic Service really making a difference or are near misses occurring repeatedly and the absence of a major incident is more luck than judgement?

Effective Management Systems provide feedback to measure benefit and to demonstrate that the required results are being achieved and to identify areas where further improvement is necessary. It is recommended, by this website, that a VTS (both service and system) should be subject to more performance measurement so that improvements in safety can be suitably quantified. Such measurement and statistical recording would be best implemented within the VTS system.