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Navigational Safety

The Department for Transport (DfT) is responsible for the maintenance of navigation safety within the UK Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and onboard UK Flagged vessels. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) is an Executive Agency of the DfT and the UK’s Maritime Administration. To fulfil the UK’s navigation safety obligations under international legislation, MCA delivers a comprehensive regime of safety regulation and a suite of navigation safety services based on the requirements of SOLAS Chapter V.  

Nautical Policy 

UK Flagged vessels benefit from the internationally recognised expertise of MCA’s Nautical Policy team. This team develops regulation for the implementation of SOLAS Chapter V and COLREGs via the UK’s Certification regime and Port State activities. The team provides highly regarded representation for the UK Flag at the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), where it has been at the forefront of international maritime legislation processes since the establishment of the IMO in 1958. The team is a world leader in the development of navigation technologies including (but not limited to) the move from paper to electronic navigation charts and novel technologies for navigation and COLREG compliance for remote operated and fully autonomous vessels.  

Offshore Infrastructure and Navigation Safety  

The MCA’s Offshore Renewables and Marine Licensing Team serves as Statutory Consultees and Primary Advisors to devolved marine licensing and offshore consenting regulators. This multi-disciplinary group ensures that the risks to shipping from offshore infrastructure are fully considered and reduced to acceptable levels. This work preserves and protects nationally important shipping routes, IMO routeing measures and access to port facilities, for vessels in the waters surrounding the UK.  

The Civil Hydrographic Programme 

The MCA maintains a cutting-edge programme of hydrographic surveys in the UK EEZ, focusing on areas with mobile seabed’s, which present the most risk to the mariner. This multi-million pound programme ensures that the bathymetric data, essential for maritime decision making, is rapidly collected, collated and used to update Admiralty products. MCA achieves this task via its close partnership with The United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO) which produces navigational products for distribution to industry.  

Maritime Safety Information (MSI) 

The UK provides MSI services via multiple systems including Enhanced Group Calling, Navtex, Medium Frequency and Very High Frequency Radio. MSI is also promulgated online via web services operated by our MSI partners the UKHO and Met Office, the latter having operational responsibility for the UK Maritime Weather Service. MCA was amongst the first administrations to bring the Iridium Recognised Satellite Service to full operational capability and has provided guidance on its use for UK Flagged Vessels.  

Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) 

The MCA serves as the National Competent Authority (NCA) for VTS in UK waters, setting standards for the operation of VTS Centres nationally and providing guidance on safe VTS practices to the 21 VTS operated by Ports within UK. The MCA also operates two of its own Coastal VTS Centres, Sunk and Channel VTS. Channel VTS maintains the safety of vessels in the Dover Strait, one of the world’s busiest chokepoints. MCA operates an audit program for VTS Training Centres which ensures the competency of VTS Officers and the safety of vessels utilising VTS, in the waters around UK.