Local Weather: Cloudy - Clear night later 9°C  |  48.2°F  
The UK's best connected port

Great voyages start here

Pilotage and PECs

Pilotage Directions

The following categories of vessel are subject to compulsory pilotage:

  • A vessel of 48 metres or more in overall length.
  • A vessel of 20 metres or more in overall length carrying more than 12 passengers. The expression "passenger" means any person carried in a ship (whether or not for a fare) except:
    • a person employed or engaged in any capacity on board the ship on the business of the ship.
    • children under one year of age.

NOTE:- With regard to Tall Ships and other sailing vessels, the overall length is the total physical length of the vessel including the bowsprit if deployed.

The following categories of vessels are exempt from compulsory pilotage by Portsmouth CHA.

  • A vessel in transit through the Solent on passage to or from any position West of the line from Gilkicker Point Light to Ryde Pier provided such vessel does not proceed
    • North of a line from Gilkicker Point Light
    • to Horse Sand Fort Light
    • to Cambrian Wreck Buoy.
  • A vessel in Government service except when berthing or unberthing at any non-Ministry of Defence facility.
  • A vessel with an admiralty pilot embarked while proceeding to or from any Ministry of Defence facility. Such a vessel proceeding between a Ministry of Defence facility and a Commercial facility is not exempt compulsory pilotage for the berthing or unberthing operation at the commercial facility.
  • A vessel of less than 150 metres L.O.A. proceeding to or from any position West of the line Gilkicker Point Light to Ryde Pier and/or going to an anchorage in St Helens Roads.
  • A vessel of an overall length of not greater than 150 metres while to the South East of the line from
    • Nettlestone Pt (Latitude 50 43.27'N, Longitude 1 06.48'W)
    • to the Warner Buoy,
    • thence to a North Easterly direction to Cambrian Wreck Buoy,
    • thence due North to the Shoreline.

Pilotage Exemption Certificate

General

Bona fide Masters and First Mates of ships regularly calling at Portsmouth may obtain a Pilotage Exemption Certificate for Portsmouth subject to their being able to satisfy Portsmouth CHA as to their skill, experience, local knowledge, knowledge of English and medical fitness. "Experience" in the pilotage area in this case should be considered as completing a minimum of 12 trips under a pilot or existing PEC holder in the previous 12 months. For vessels greater than 150 metres LOA this is increased to a minimum of 20 trips, inclusive of an outward and inward trip with a pilot at the start and at the finish of the trips.

Application

Application for a pilotage exemption certificate should be made on the prescribed form which is obtainable from the Port Manager's Office. It should be accompanied by a current MCA Seafarer Medical Certificate (ENG 1) or equivalent. The appropriate fee should also accompany the application.

Examination

  • An applicant for a pilotage exemption certificate will be required to sit an oral examination at the Harbour Office. A syllabus detailing the areas of knowledge required is available on application to the Port Manager's Department. Prospective candidates for Pilotage Exemption Certificate examination are encouraged to discuss requirements in advance with the Harbour Master.
  • Applicants should attend Semaphore Tower for familiarization prior to examination.
  • A successful candidate will be granted the benefit of a Pilot Exemption Certificate immediately. A failed candidate will not be re-examined until at least a month after the date of failure; after second and subsequent failures, candidates will not be re-examined until at least three months have elapsed from the date of the last examination.

Certificates

  • A pilotage exemption certificate is valid only in respect of the vessel or vessels named on the certificate and only when such vessel is being piloted by the holder of the certificate who must at the time be the bona fide Master or First Mate of the vessel.
  • A Certificate will not remain in force for more than 12 months. For renewal see paragraphs 9-11 below.

Duties of a Certificate Holder

  • When a ship is in the charge of a Master or Mate holding a Pilotage Exemption Certificate and is underway within the Area of jurisdiction, the Pilotage Exemption Flag is to be displayed. [This is the same design and colour as the Polish national flag].
  • A Pilotage Exemption Certificate Holder who observes any alteration to the shoals or to the channels, or that any seamarks are out of place or do not conform or show their proper distinctive character, shall immediately report the circumstances verbally to the Harbour Master, followed by a report in writing as soon as practicable.
  • When a ship in the charge of a Master or Mate holding a Pilotage Exemption Certificate has touched the ground or has been in collision or in a close quarter situation with any other ship or any fixed or floating object in the water, he shall immediately report the occurrence verbally to the Harbour Master followed by a report in writing on the form prescribed as soon as practicable. An immediate report is also to be made to the Queen's Harbour Master.
  • Pilotage Exemption Certificate holders are required to attend any investigation or enquiry held by Portsmouth.
  • Pilotage Exemption Certificate holders are to demonstrate their use of the certificate by submitting monthly returns to the Harbour Office.
  • PEC holders are to report to QHM on VHF channel 11 when they intend to enter or leave the Dockyard port area.

PEC Syllabus I

Examinations will be conducted orally in English.

Candidates are encouraged to contact the Harbour Master prior to examination to discuss the procedures and depth of knowledge they will be expected to demonstrate.

Candidates Experience

Bona fide Masters and First Mates of ships regularly calling at Portsmouth may obtain a Pilotage Exemption Certificate for Portsmouth subject to their being able to satisfy Portsmouth CHA as to their skill, experience, local knowledge, knowledge of English and medical fitness. "Experience" in the pilotage area in this case should be considered as completing a minimum of 12 trips under a pilot or existing PEC holder. For vessels greater than 150 metres LOA this is increased to a minimum of 20 trips, inclusive of an outward and inward trip with a pilot at the start and at the finish of the trips.

Candidates will be asked to detail their experience of navigating in the Portsmouth CHA Area and their ‘hands on’ experience of the vessel(s) for which they are seeking a Pilotage Exemption Certificate. This is to include passages from the CHA district boundary to and from the berth, AND manoeuvring experience on and off the berth.

Candidates will be expected to be able to provide information about navigational equipment and manoeuvring capabilities of their vessels and to put this into the context of their planned navigation within Portsmouth Harbour and its Approaches.

Candidates for Pilotage Exemption Certificates should be able to answer questions on:

Portsmouth Pilotage Directions.

(contained in the "Dues, Rates and Charges & Pilotage Arrangements" handbook)

  • Details of the Pilotage Directions including:
    • The area of jurisdiction
    • Vessels subject to compulsory pilotage
    • Pilot boarding and landing places
    • Knowledge of other vessels in the area subject to pilotage by Southampton
    • Duties of a PEC holder

PEC Syllabus II

General

Local knowledge

  • Regulations and Directions for navigation in the Port of Portsmouth.
  • Dockyard Port of Portsmouth Order 2005 , Regulation of Dockyard Ports Act (1865).
  • Local Notice to Mariners for the Port and its approaches. Candidates will be expected to display knowledge of contents and application.
  • Working knowledge of Port Emergency Plans and procedures, i.e. SOLFIRE and Commercial Port Emergency Plan.
  • Communication procedures in the Port and its approaches.
  • Fog routine in the Port (see General Direction 03/10)
  • Prohibited and restricted areas.
  • Availability of tugs and their use – including the capability of the various tugs.
  • Availability of rescue facilities in the area, i.e. lifeboats, helicopters etc, including knowledge of base stations and operating procedures.
  • The names and features of channels, points, lakes, banks and shoals in the Harbour and it’s Approaches.

Navigation in the Portsmouth area

A candidate will need to have detailed knowledge of the following:

  • Courses and distances in the Approaches to Portsmouth and in the Harbour.
  • Buoy lines and track distances between buoys.
  • Names and characteristics of navigational marks, buoys, seamarks and their light characteristics, and Fog signals.
  • The set, rate, mean ranges and duration of the tides.
  • The tidal regime at the "Warner" Buoy, "OSB", the Harbour Entrance and if greater than 150m LOA at the Nab.
  • The depths of water in the Harbour and its Approaches including channel and fairway depths, depths at channel buoys and on berths. The relevance of such depths to the vessel for which the Pilotage Certificate is being applied.
  • Widths of channels and fairways.
  • Transits leading lights and clearing marks.
  • Names of wharves, jetties, mooring buoys and landing places.
  • Traffic movement patterns and critical areas of navigation.
  • Names of channels, fairways and reference points.
  • Prominent natural features on the approach to Portsmouth and the Harbour.
  • Anchorages, their names, positions, limits and usage.
  • Radar patterns of navigational marks and natural and prominent features.

PEC Syllabus III

Notes on the examination

A Board of three people representing the following interests will normally carry out the examination:

Competent Harbour Authority: usually the Harbour Master.
Queen’s Harbour Master: usually represented by his Deputy.
CHA Pilot: usually a Senior Pilot.

Each participant will have time for asking the candidate questions after which the candidate will be asked to leave the examination room whilst the examiners confer and decide if the candidate has reached the required standard for the issue of a Pilotage Exemption Certificate.

If the candidate fails the examination, he will not be eligible to be re-examined until at least one month has elapsed. At any subsequent failure a period of three months will be required before re-examination.

Application for a PEC

Application for a pilotage exemption certificate should:

  • be made on the prescribed form (Pilotage Exemption Certificate application, download below)
  • be accompanied by a current MCA Medical Certificate "ENG1", or equivalent
  • be accompanied by a certified Semaphore Tower (Harbour Control), (form can be downloaded below)
  • include the appropriate fee.

Renewal of Certificate

Investigations of Incidents

Any incident or marine casualty involving the holder of a Pilotage Exemption Certificate, will be investigated by Portsmouth CHA. The Queen's Harbour Master might also hold an investigation if for instance, an HM ship is involved or the vessel traffic regulations are breached. The CHA may, in cases involving misconduct or incompetence on the part of the certificate holder or in circumstances affecting his capability to pilot the ship or ships specified in the Certificate, suspend or revoke his Pilotage Exemption Certificate.
Application for the renewal of Pilotage Exemption Certificates must be made at least one month before expiry date. Application must be made on the prescribed form also obtainable from the Port Manager's Office, and must be accompanied by the appropriate fee.
Renewal will normally be granted only if the following conditions are met:

Renewal of Certificates

A current MCA Seafarer Medical Certificate (ENG 1) and confirmation of continued medical fitness will be required for all British certificate holders. (MSN 1765 refers) The equivalent national medical certificate will normally be accepted for non-British certificate holders.

  • Applicants for renewal must be able to demonstrate that they continue to be regular users of the Harbour throughout the year.
  • Additionally, in the 3 months preceding renewal they must have completed at least 6 acts of pilotage minimum in the Harbour
  • and made a familiarization visit to Semaphore Tower,

failing which re-examination will be necessary.

Additional conditions may be required to be satisfied for renewal, after a holder reaches the age of 65.

Pilotage legislation