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Port Marine Safety Code (PMSC)

The Port Marine Safety Code represents a new approach to the management of safety in ports. It was developed following the grounding of the MV Sea Empress and a review of the arrangements for harbour pilotage under the Pilotage Act 1987. Produced with the help of a wide range of interests in the ports and shipping industries, the code introduces a national standard for every aspect of port marine safety. It aims to improve safety for those who use or work in ports, their ships, passengers and cargoes, and the environment. It establishes a measure by which harbour authorities can be accountable for the legal powers and duties that they have in order to run their harbours safely. Its object is the widest possible adoption of good practice.

The Port Marine Safety Code represents a code of practice for the ports industry and is intended to apply to all civilian harbour authorities, to the extent that they have duties and powers relating to marine safety. While Queen’s Harbour Masters (QHM) are exempt from complying with the code, a policy decision has been made that each QHM will implement the code as far as is practicable within their statutory obligations arising from the Dockyard Ports Act 1865.

The code applies to port marine operations the well-established principles of risk assessment and safety management systems. Ports and harbours are required to produce a Safety Management System based on the ALARP principle - that is managing marine operations in harbours to reduce risk "as low as reasonably practicable".

The code embraces some fundamental principles.

  1. The promotion of nationally agreed standards.
  2. Recognising that best practice is built on experience and is therefore evolutionary.
  3. Focus upon those risks affecting the safety of life, property and the environment.