Port Business General Directions
The Queen’s Harbour Master (QHM) is an independent authority formally appointed under an act of Parliament, accountable to the secretary of State for Defence through the Naval Base Commander, Devonport QHM is responsible for the Protection of the Port, which means the perseverance of life, protection of the environment, protection of property and the continuity of the business within the port whilst overseeing MoD primacy within the port.
QHM is the Statutory Harbour, Pilotage and Lighthouse Authority for the Dockyard Port of Plymouth, with local legislative powers provided by public statute. QHM is responsible for the navigational safety and traffic regulation of all vessels bound to and from the Port of Plymouth (Cattewater), Millbay and Sutton Harbour. QHM’s area of jurisdiction is shown on the Chart within the Dockyard Port of Plymouth Order 1999.
All vessels arriving at or sailing from the Plymouth Ports and Dockyard are to report to the Plymouth Vessel Traffic Service (VTS). The Reporting Procedures are set out in Schedule 1 part 2 of the Dockyard Port of Plymouth Order 1999.
QHM provides a Pilotage Service for all vessels visiting a Ministry of Defence berth in either the Hamoaze or at Turnchapel; The Cattewater Harbour Master is the Competent Harbour Authority for civil traffic visiting a berth in Plymouth Sound or a civil berth in Millbay, or the Cattewater.
QHM has statutory powers to regulate all vessels with in the QHM area of Jurisdiction. He is responsible for superintendent the Act and General Directions, and can issue a Special Direction to the master of any ship within his jurisdiction for the purposes of Navigational Safety or Traffic Regulation. The powers of the QHM are also delegated to specifically authorized Deputies and Assistants, including VTS Officers.
Plymouth Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) is operated from Longroom Port Control Station on a continuous 24-hour basis to provide a safe and efficient regime for vessel traffic, and protection for the environment. Longrooom also provides the co-ordination and communications centre for the Plymouth Admiralty pilotage service, and may be used as a point of contact for Plymouth civil pilotage services.
Plymouth VTS is manned by internationally qualified VTS Officers and operated in accordance with IMO Resolution A.857 (20), MGN 238, MGN 239, MGN 240.
Plymouth VTS provides Traffic Organization and Navigational Assistance Services with the authority of the Harbour Master. Failure, without good cause, to obey an instruction given by Plymouth VTS with the purpose of preserving marine safety, protecting the environment or property may constitute an offence.
The General Directions are to be construed in conjunction with the Dockyard Port of Plymouth Port Order, Pilotage Directions and Plymouth Local Notices to Mariners.
It is the duty of the Master of a vessel to which a General Direction applies to comply with that Direction. The giving of a General Direction or a Special Direction shall not diminish, or in any other way affect, the responsibility of the Master of the vessel to which the direction is given in relation to his vessel, persons on board, its cargo, or any other person or property.
The Master of a vessel who fails to comply with a General Direction or Special Direction shall be guilty of an offence, and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 4. It shall be a defence to the master of a vessel charged with such an offence to prove that he had reasonable ground for supposing that compliance with the Direction in question would be likely to imperil his vessel, or that in the circumstances compliance was impracticable.
In order to maintain and enhance safety of navigation in the Dockyard Port of Plymouth, it is important that Masters, Watchkeepers and Pilotage Exemption Certificate holders are aware of current Byelaws, Directions and Notices to Mariners. It is therefore vital that owners/agents ensure that all such relevant information and publications are promptly distributed to vessels as appropriate.
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