The approach through the German Bight to the Elbe River is regulated by a modern monitoring system. Each approaching ship has to register with German Bight Traffic.A so-called traffic separation system (TSS) ensures additional safety in the Elbe River estuary. To avoid collisions, separate lanes are provided for ships travelling in each direction.The Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) monitors and controls ship traffic all the way into the Port of Hamburg.
The Automatic Identification System (AIS) also guarantees safe traffic. The landside AIS station receives the ships’ transponder signals and thus gets information such as the ship’s name, port of registry and even its speed.
A chain of radar stations along the river monitors ship traffic on the Elbe and in the port. The ships’ commanders can get assistance from the surveillance station in case of poor visibility or on demand. The city-state of Hamburg supervises the Elbe River as a federal waterway. The government is responsible for nautical measures and port safety.