Port of sector New York
Last week my vessel operations class went to the port of sector New York to meet the Captain of the Port of New York, Micheal H. Day and see VTS (Vessel Traffic Services) in action. Unfortunately Captain Day was preoccupied and couldn’t meet with us and we instead met with the Senior Reserve Officer (SRO) for USCG Sector of New York, Captain Matthew McCann. He had over 20 years of experience in the Coast Guard.
Captain McCann explained to us the responsibilities as captain of the port and explained to us how he moved up through the ranks to where he is today. Vessel Traffic Services is very similar to Air Traffic Control except instead of queuing up airplanes for takeoff and landing, they monitor anchor sites, make vessels aware of other large vessels and overall ensure the safety of mariners. VTS however doesn’t cover any vessel under 200 feet or 100 gross tonnes; they control traffic within the harbor through a plethora of techniques. Not only do they rely on radio communications from vessels but have also an extensive network of high definition cameras along the harbor and electronic charts that allow them to control the craziness that is commercial shipping in New York Harbor.
My fellow students I got VIP access to see what VTS was really like and got to talk to real VTS operators and watch them in real time. The VTS operators offered a wealth of knowledge and told us not only about their experiences in VTS but through out the Coast Guard. However, not all operators were enlisted. In fact, nearly half of them were civilian which showed me something I never knew before: I could work for the Coast Guard without being enlisted! It also taught me how much logistic work goes into shipping. This trip opened my eyes to new careers and interests.