Exploring non-technical miscommunication in vessel traffic service operation


Anders Brödje, Monica Lundh, Johan Jenvald, Joakim Dahlman


Vessel traffic services (VTS) are maritime traffic monitoring systems used in port approaches, confined or congested waters. VTS operators (VTSOs) monitor a specific geographical area and support and direct ships that sail through the area, primarily making the navigating officer or pilot of each ship aware of the current traffic situation, local weather and geographical conditions. We used an interactive mid-fidelity simulation as a knowledge eliciting tool to explore the work situation of VTSOs.

During the simulation, VTSOs from a VTS centre in Sweden ran a scenario based on a normal traffic situation in their local fairway. Results indicate that the VTSOs, even though they are well aware of crucial events in the fairway, at times choose not to inform navigating officers or pilots of these safety aspects apart from when subject to protocol.

The present paper put forward elements behind this form of miscommunication and presents results indicating that the major contributing factor is the VTSOs’ anticipation of negative attitudes between working groups participating in the VTS system and the lack of sufficient regulation with regard to the role and responsibilities of VTSOs.