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Fourth of July
United States Coast Guard
Thursday, June 14, 2012
As a vital component of the safe and efficient navigation of vessel movement within the Houston/Galveston port complex, the Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) sorely lacked a suitable back up plan for the temporary loss of the VTS facility or communications infrastructure.
When the Houston Pilots began drafting designs for their new facility on Deerwood Glen Drive in Deer Park, they approached the Coast Guard VTS to see if the Pilots could assist in providing a space for an alternate location to operate remotely should the existing VTS experience a failure or require evacuation.
The VTS Director and Presiding Officer of the Houston Pilots worked with their staffs to hammer out details to facilitate a dual-use space that would be suitable for temporary VTS operations. Those efforts paid off on the 13th of Jun when VTS was forced to replace a main breaker supplying electrical service to all equipment in the Vessel Traffic Center.
Using the Houston Pilot’s VHF tower, HarborLights and VTS installed communication equipment; VTS personnel managed traffic at the alternate site to facilitate the replacement of the electrical breaker.
For three hours, traffic advisories and vessel coordination ran successfully from the hurricane category “four” Pilot’s office without missing a beat. Maritime traffic was unaffected and likely never knew VTS personnel were operating from an alternate site. The success of this brief evolution will prove invaluable in the resumption of traffic should the need arise from a prolonged shut-down or evacuation of the VTS current location.
Once again, the relationships formed with industry are what make the VTS a successful partner in keeping this vital complex in motion. And to quote the Presiding Officer of the Houston Pilots -Robert Thompson “that’s the way we like to do in Houston” and so it is!
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