A Traffic Separation Scheme or TSS is a traffic-management route-system ruled by the International Maritime Organization or IMO.
The traffic-lanes (or clearways) indicate the general direction of the ships in that zone; ships navigating within a TSS all sail in the same direction or they cross the lane in an angle as close to 90 degrees as possible.
TSSs are used to regulate the traffic at busy, confined waterways or around capes. Within a TSS you normally see at least one traffic-lane in each main-direction, turning-points, deep-water lanes and separation zones between the main traffic lanes.
In most cases you can find an "inshore traffic zone" between the traffic-lanes and the coast.
A ship navigating in a traffic-lane should sail in the general direction of that lane. The body of water between two opposite lanes is to be avoided by vessels travelling within the TSS as far as possible except in certain circumstances such as emergencies or for fishing activities.
The TSS rules are incorporated in the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (under rule 10)
As said, when sailing within a lane of a TSS that ship has to follow the general direction of the lane. Where needed there are special zones where a lane splits into two channels: one ongoing and the other to the nearby port(s).
In most TSS schemes you will find ''Inshore Traffic Zones'' between the traffic-lanes and the coast. The inshore traffic zone is unregulated and shouldn't be used for ongoing traffic. It is meant for local traffic, fishing and small craft.
== Objectives of a TSS ==
Objectives of IMO Routeing Schemes:
1. Help reduce and manage head on situations for the streams of opposing traffic
2. Help manage crossing situation arising while entering or coming out of port
3. In areas of offshore activities, directives regarding safe distance from the installations
4. Providing routes for deep draught vessels
5. Avoiding presence of routine traffic from some areas as desired by administration
6. Better management of inshore traffic zone, fishing zones and areas dangerous to navigation due to presence of isolated dangers and shoal patches in a high density traffic area.
Well-known TSS locations include: The English Channel, German Bight, Singapore, and Cape Horn. The Dover Strait/Détroit du Pas de Calais was the first
International Maritime Organisation (IMO) approved Traffic Separation Scheme in the world in 1967.
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