One thing about the Houston Ship Channel, it sure keeps the Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board busy. Now the NTSB – which has called for improvements in the way ship traffic is managed through Texas ports – has embarked on a national study of Vessel Traffic Service systems.

In its investigation of the March 2014 lower Galveston Bay collision of the 607’ bulk carrier Summer Wind and the 70’ towboat Miss Susan with its pair of 500’ barges, the NTSB among its recommendations marked the local VTS for improvement.

Now there’s a wider safety study, and the NTSB is looking for help and advice from people who work in the nation’s ports.

“The National Transportation Safety Board’s Safety Research Division is conducting a study to assess the effectiveness of Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) systems operated by the U.S. Coast Guard,” the agency said in a recent announcement. “One of the best ways the NTSB can learn about Coast Guard VTS is by asking for comments from professional associations, harbor safety committees, and other waterway stakeholders operating within a Coast Guard VTS Area.

“The NTSB would like to better understand how Coast Guard VTS impacts the overall safety of your day-to-day operations, and to hear your perspectives and any recommendations you may have to improve VTS effectiveness on your waterway.”

The agency is asking for comments to be submitted before Dec. 1, 2015, via email.

Submissions should include the agency’s full name (National Transportation Safety Board) and the NTSB Safety Study Number (DCA15SS001) in the email subject line.

The agency also wants to know the type of operation at which commenters work, the commenter's role within the organization, and the VTS area in which the commenter operates.The survey is completely voluntary, and the NTSB promises not to identify commenters in the study.

“By taking a few minutes to share your firsthand knowledge and experience operating within a Coast Guard VTS, you will be helping us a great deal.”

Contributing Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.