18th October 2019. Fifteen volunteer members of the National Coastwatch Institution station at Southend toured the London Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) operations centre at Gravesend.

The aims and objectives of London VTS are to ensure safety of life at sea, safety and efficiency of navigation, and to protect the marine environment, adjacent shore areas, work sites and offshore installations from the possible adverse effects of maritime traffic. London VTS manages one of the largest and most diverse VTS areas in the UK covering an area of some 600 square miles of waterway spanning 95 miles from Teddington to the North Sea.

Deputy Harbour Master Miles Featherstone welcomed the NCI visitors on arrival and gave them an initial brief on their operations before dividing them into two groups for a tour of the Operations room. Here the NCI volunteers were able to see the extensive array of electronic aids in use.

A spokesperson for NCI Southend said “ While they have radar feeds from various points on the estuary, the AIS forms the backbone of the system for vessel monitoring. We had an extremely good and interesting visit and learnt a lot about their operation and how the pilotage system works, which many of us had not fully understood. Thank you Miles for your entertaining talk and excellent visit.”

The photograph shows some of the NCI visitors touring the VTS Operations room.

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Currently 56 NCI stations are operational and manned by over 2600 volunteers keeping watch around the British Isles from Fleetwood in the North West, through Wales, to the South and East of England to Hornsea in the East Riding of Yorkshire. 

NCI watchkeepers provide the eyes and ears along the coast, monitoring radio channels and providing a listening watch in poor visibility. They are trained to deal with emergencies offering a variety of skills and experience, and full training by the NCI ensures that high standards are met.








The words National Coastwatch Institution and Eyes Along the Coast and the NCI logos are Registered Trademarks of NCI.


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