Navigation safety for UK seafarers
Vessel traffic management, electronic nautical publications and safety information for owners, operators of ships, yachts, fishing vessels.
Vessel traffic management
Vessel traffic management can involve vessel traffic services or local port services.
Vessel traffic services
Vessel traffic services (VTS) is an important tool in contributing to:
- safety of life at sea,
- safety of navigation
- protection of the marine environment
VTS is made up of one or more of three service types:
- traffic organisation
- navigational assistance
Local Port Service
A local port service is where VTS is considered excessive, but there is still a need to disseminate information to those using the port. This is not a lower standard or poorer service – it just means that VTS is not provided.
VTS – publications and guidance
Refer to the following guidance for more information about VTS and local port services:
- IMO guidance about VTS
- IALA publications and guidance for VTS
- MCA Navigation: vessel traffic services (VTS) – training and certification of VTS personnel (MGN 434)
- MCA Navigation: vessel traffic services (VTS) and local port services (LPS) in the UK (MGN 401) and amendment to MGN 401
- MCA Vessel traffic services (VTS): designation of VTS stations in the UK (MSN 1796) and amendment to MSN 1796
- Port marine safety code: guide
- Dover Strait channel navigation information service (CNIS)
MCA is responsible for broadcasting the warnings issued by the UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) to vessels at sea. Radio broadcasts are made about known and potential risks.
‘Navigational warnings: reporting and broadcasting hazards at sea’ outlines:
- how and when warnings are broadcast
- what kind of activities require a warning
- how to inform UKHO that a hazard requires a navigational warning
- broadcast charges to those reponsible for the hazard that’s issued as a warning
Navigation safety leaflets
MCA produces information leaflets for seafarers on ships, yachts and fishing vessels. Find safety leaflets about navigation, communication and safety at sea.
Digital nautical publications on ship’s bridge
Ship operators and owners must meet approval and installation standards for electronic equivalents of nautical charts and publications.
Digital nautical publications – requirements and equivalency
The safety of life at sea (SOLAS) convention chapter V regulation 18.104.22.168 states that all ships whatever their size must have “nautical charts and nautical publications to plan and display the ship’s route for the intended voyage and to plot and monitor positions throughout the voyage” and that “an electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS) is also accepted as meeting the chart carriage requirements”.
SOLAS chapter V regulation 2.2 defines that a nautical chart or nautical publication as “a special-purpose map or book, or a specially compiled database from which such a map or book is derived, that is issued officially by or on the authority of a government, authorised hydrographic office or other relevant government institution and is designed to meet the requirements of marine navigation”.
Exemptions – equivalency
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) makes exemptions or alternative arrangements from the requirements for certain types of vessel, for example:
- MCA code vessels under 24 metres in length – refer to marine guidance note MGN 293 (M+F)
- pleasure vessels below 150 GT – refer to Statutory Instrument 2002 No.1473
- fishing vessels of over 15 and less than 24 metres in length – refer to MSN 1872 (F) The Code of Safe Working Practice for the Construction and Use of Fishing Vessels of 15m Length Overall to less than 24m Registered Length
- fishing vessels over 24 metres in length – refer to MSN 1873 (F) The Code of Practice for the Construction and Safe Operation of Fishing Vessels of 24m Registered Length and Over
Equivalent approved products
As well as nautical charts and publications covered under the regulations, MCA also recognises products which satisfy certain carriage requirements.
Check out MCA’s‘equivalency letters’ to find out which products are MCA approved as meeting requirements.
Contact MCA if you’re a service provider of digital nautical data and you’d like us to consider your product as satisfying certain carriage requirements:
Email: [email protected]
The use of digital nautical publications on a vessel must comply with requirements as described in MGN 610 (M+F) SOLAS chapter V: Guidance on the merchant shipping (safety of navigation) regulations 2020
SOLAS Chapter V
Access the full MCA guidance here
Last updated 29 July 2020 + show all updates