PRIDE just crossed into what is called a Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) zone. VTS zones are created to eliminate the possibility of ship collisions in areas considered to have significant ship density. There are several VTS zones around the world…but rather few of them in Eastern North America. New York Harbor has one. Galveston to Houston has a VTS. Buzzards Bay in Massachusetts is a new one started less than five years ago. Halifax Harbor has one. Canso Straits (between Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island) has one. Northumberland Straits (between Prince Edward Island and the mainland) has one and the St. Lawrence River between longitude 66 West near the top center of the Gaspe Peninsula all the way to Montreal is a rather large one. In Europe there are traffic zones stretching from the beginning of the English Channel separating France and England all the way into the Baltic Sea with numerous smaller zones in the numerous commercial harbors on either side of the main traffic zones between Great Britain and the European Continent.
On the navigation charts, traffic lanes are depicted for inbound and outbound shipping to follow. Radio communication is setup for regular reporting of a vessel’s position within the traffic scheme. Overall it is not unlike an airport landing pattern with parallel lanes being monitored by a central control. Sometimes these VTS Zones provide areas for smaller vessels with no radio reporting requirements as long as such vessels do not wander into the “freeway” lanes of a VTS. This is not the case with the St. Lawrence Seaway…all commercial vessels regardless of size and regardless if they are not using the traffic lanes are required to participate in the VTS radio contact system. And so PRIDE is participating.
There has been no wind of any consistent strength or direction of 10 knots or better since PRIDE departed Gaspe yesterday morning. This morning there has been rain since before dawn. But there is the coast of Gaspe to see up close (within half a mile) as PRIDE slides by at about 4.5 knots using one of her two engines (to conserve fuel) while trying to escape the outbound river current of the St. Lawrence that runs along the Gaspe shore mostly out in deeper water further off shore.
Jan C. Miles, Captain aboard Pride of Baltimore II