The UK's best connected port

Great discoveries start here

Regulation of navigation

Harbour directions

The Dockyard Port of Portsmouth Order 2005

Originating from an Act of Parliament dated 1865, the Dockyard Port of Portsmouth Order contains all the long-standing regulations that mariners must follow. The order should be read in conjunction with the latest Notices to Mariners which may affect changes since the publication of the Order.

Local Notices to Mariners

Local Notices to Mariners are produced and promulgated by the Queens Harbour Master, Portsmouth. They advise, guide and direct mariners of local rules and regulations, dangers, hazards, and harbour events that have a major impact on the safety of navigation for harbour users. They are often written in conjunction with the Commercial Port Harbour Master Portsmouth and Southampton Harbour Master.

The Commercial Port Harbour Master also issues Local Notices to Mariners that, due to their very localized affect or nature, do not require the wider promulgation of QHM’s notices. They can be viewed here.

Portsmouth Navigational Warnings

Portsmouth navigational warnings are promulgated from HM Naval Base Portsmouth. They contain temporary or urgent notices to mariners that cannot wait until a Local Notice to Mariners is published. They are sent direct to to major users in the harbour, and can also be viewed here.

Vessel Traffic Services

Vessel traffic services (VTS) contribute to safety of life at sea, safety and efficiency of navigation and protection of the marine environment, adjacent shore areas, work sites and offshore installations from possible adverse effects of maritime traffic.

The VTS in the area is controlled by Associated British Ports Southampton VTS for the outer Solent. The approaches to Portsmouth Harbour are the responsibility of the Queens Harbour Master at Harbour Control Semaphore Tower.

VTS reporting points

Inbound to Portsmouth (report to)

Call 'Southampton VTS' on VHF Channel 12
at Nab Tower
between No Man's Land / Horse Sand Fort
Call 'QHM' on VHF Channel 11
at Nab Tower
at Warner Buoy / North Sturbridge from the west
at Saddle Buoy (to request permission to enter the approach channel

Outbound from Portsmouth (report to)

Call 'Southampton VTS' on VHF Channel 12
at Southsea War Memorial
between No Man's Land / Horse Sand Fort
at Nab Tower
Call 'QHM' on VHF Channel 11
before leaving Berth if 20m or more in length
at Fountain Lake Corner (large commercial vessels)
at Saddle Buoy
at Nab Tower

Outer Solent - Southampton VTS

Based at Berth 37 Eastern Docks, the Southampton Vessel Traffic Service (VTS), is responsible for the monitoring and co-ordination of all shipping movements for vessels of 20 metres length overall or over in the Solent, South of a line joining Gilkicker Point and Horse Sand Fort Light.

From here, VTS and radar surveillance is maintained for the Eastern Solent. Working VHF channel 12, 14. Call sign “Southampton VTS”.

VHF, Radar and CCTV are also recorded and archived for incident investigations.

Portsmouth and approaches - QHM

The Queen’s Harbour Master (QHM) is responsible for the monitoring and co-ordination of all shipping movements for vessels of 20 metres LOA or over, North of a line joining Gilkicker Point and Horse Sand Fort Light. Although QHM’s area extends south of this line, the VTS in that area is delegated to ABP Southampton by private agreement.

QHM Harbour Control maintains radar coverage of the Eastern Solent including the Portsmouth Harbour Approach Channel. A continuous listening watch is maintained on VHF Ch11 and 13, Ch11 being the primary channel for the co-ordination of shipping movements entering and leaving Portsmouth. Ch13 is normally used by the naval tugs and to control naval movements within the naval base, but on occasion QHM may authorize its use in the event of Ch11 being busy.

All vessels over 20m in length underway in Portsmouth Harbour and remaining north of a line joining Fort Gilkicker and Horse Sand Fort are to maintain a continuous listening watch on VHF Ch11, they must also request permission from QHM before moving within the Harbour or leaving their berth.

Harbour Control is situated at Semaphore Tower adjacent to the South Railway Jetty (SRJ). Weather, VHF, Radar and CCTV, are recorded and can be archived for later use in investigations.

Semaphore Tower also accommodates the Marine Response Centre (MRC) for controlling SOLFIRE EAST incidents.