Gulf of Finland VTS Centre
Located in Helsinki, the Gulf of Finland VTS Centre monitors vessel traffic in both Finland’s territorial waters from Hanko to the eastern border in Santio and in international waters in the Gulf of Finland.
Finnish territorial waters in the Gulf of Finland are divided into three VTS areas. Hanko VTS monitors vessel traffic from Hanko to Jussarö. Helsinki VTS monitors vessel traffic in the areas of Porkkala, Helsinki and Emäsalo. Finland’s eastern territorial waters are monitored by Kotka VTS.
Helsinki Traffic, which is responsible for monitoring of the northern GOFREP area, also operates from the Centre. Helsinki Traffic maintains the mandatory ship reporting system for the area and improves vessel traffic safety by intervening in abnormal situations and warning vessels of hazards such as shoals or vessels not under command. It also supervises compliance with COLREGs within the area and reports violations to maritime authorities.
The Gulf of Finland is a busy area for shipping, with a high amount of intersecting traffic. East-west traffic consists mainly of cargo ships, but particularly between Helsinki in Tallinn, there is also busy passenger ship traffic in the north-south direction.
Western Finland VTS Centre
The Western Finland VTS Centre in Turku monitors vessel traffic in both Finland’s territorial waters from the Archipelago Sea up to Tornio and in the South Åland Sea TSS (Traffic Separation Scheme).
The western coast of Finland is divided into three VTS areas. The surveillance area of Archipelago VTS encompasses the Archipelago Sea, while West Coast VTS operates on the Bothian Sea from Rauma to Vaasa and Bothnia VTS on the Finnish coast in the Bothian Bay. Ports within the Centre’s area receive some 16,000 port calls annually, and the area has a total of 2,100 kilometres of monitored fairways.
The Western Finland VTS Centre also includes Åland Sea Traffic, which monitors vessel traffic in the South Åland Sea TSS, and Turku Radio, which is responsible for safety radio broadcasts and helps ensure distress radio communications along the Finnish coast.
The VTS centre for the Saimaa region is located in Lappeenranta, and its surveillance area encompasses the Saimaa deep water fairway. Saimaa VTS does not monitor vessel traffic in the Saimaa Canal. The VTS centre maintains a real-time status of the area and broadcasts information to vessels operating in the area. Crucial information to vessels include information on malfunctions of aids to navigation and exceptional weather and ice conditions. The centre also maintains distress and safety radio communications in the area.
Future expansions to the Saimaa Canal locks may increase traffic in the Saimaa lake region. During the open water season, log raft tugboats operate nearly daily in the area. In addition to small cargo ships, Saimaa waters are traversed by tugboats and barges and, during the summer, by passenger ships around Lappeenranta, Savonlinna and Kuopio. During the summer, the fairways also have heavy traffic of smaller vessels and leisure boats and events such as sailing races.
Saimaa VTS operates only during its navigation season. The navigation season corresponds mostly to the Saimaa Canal opening times, but VTS Finland will release separate announcements on its start and end dates.