Pilotage and VTS

The Admiralty Pilots at Plymouth are part of KHM’s organisation and are employed to enable KHM to discharge his statutory duties to ensure the safe movement of vessels within the Dockyard Port.


Admiralty Pilots of Plymouth

The Admiralty Pilotage Service is geared to provide a round the clock service, every day of the year. The Service provides up to 4 Pilots in the core working week with reduced cover overnight and at the weekends.

The Admiralty Pilots are managed by the Chief Admiralty Pilot, on behalf of KHM. The Chief Admiralty Pilot allocates Pilots to individual tasks and assists the Movements Officer in the planning of vessel movements in the Port. The Chief Admiralty Pilot is also available for advice on Pilotage, the use of tugs and vessel manoeuvring within the Port.

The Pilotage Passage Plan Template can be found at the link below.

Pilotage Passage Plan Template

Pilotage services

Pilotage for certain vessels (usually larger and deep draught vessels) using the Port is compulsory. An Admiralty Pilot on behalf of KHM also controls vessels moved without their own power, commonly known as a “cold move”.

All Pilots have “Command qualifications” and normally three to four years of Pilotage training before qualifying as a full Admiralty Pilot.

Additional services provided by the Admiralty Pilots are Port familiarization runs and Compass Adjusting for Royal Navy vessels.

A Pilotage Exemption Certificate (PEC) issued by the King's Harbour Master (KHM) can be applied for by Masters, First Mates, Commanding Officers and Executive Officers of named vessels proceeding to or from Ministry of Defence owned berths or moorings once the qualifying standards and criteria detailed at the following link have been met.

Vessel Traffic Services (VTS)


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 401.

Plymouth VTS provides an information service and Traffic Organisation Service 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.

Bunkering Operations


These procedures cover commercial SHIP-to-SHIP transfer operations in Plymouth Sound. Royal Navy vessels and visiting warships should include the requirement to take fuel in their LOGREQ.


Notification of Intend to Bunker must be by emailed or faxed to Longroom Port Control Station 24 hours before bunkering; this can be done direct or through the Base Services / bunkering company.

Notification of commencement of Bunkering, completion of Bunkering must be made to Longroom VTS on VHF channel 14. Notification of any incident must be made to Longroom VTS on VHF channel 14.

Bunkering Conditions

Masters of vessels receiving bunkers, and Masters of bunkering barges/tankers, are advised that all bunkering operations within the jurisdiction of KHM are to be carried out in accordance with the Bunkering Conditions.

  1. Prior approval must be obtained from Longroom Port Control Station.
  2. Before any transfer of bunkers takes place, the Master or responsible Officer on each vessel must ensure that:
    1. Scuppers are properly sealed, adequate drip trays are in position under bunker hose connections, and all precautions have been taken to prevent overside discharge.
    2. The bunker hose joints and connections to ship's manifold are soundly made; the bunker hose is of adequate length, properly supported, and without defect.
    3. An agreed system of communications has been established between bunker/tanker and the ship, and provision has been made to continually monitor the operation.
  3. The bunker barge/tanker must have adequate fendering and both vessels must be securely moored.
  4. The Master/Officer in charge of the receiving vessel must contact Longroom VTS before bunker transfer begins, confirming that all-appropriate checks and precautions have been made. (Both vessels must remain in radio contact with Longroom VTS throughout the transfer.)
  5. If spillage or accident occurs during bunker transfer, the operation must be stopped and Longroom VTS informed immediately.
  6. The Master of the bunker barge/tanker must inform Longroom VTS when the operation has been safely completed and all hoses and other gear disconnected.
  7. Transfer of bunkers will only be permitted if weather and other conditions are considered suitable. The King’s Harbour Master may, at his discretion, order the cessation of the operation and this order must be complied with immediately.
  8. The King’s Harbour Master cannot accept any responsibility or liability for any cancellation; curtailment or delay of the bunker operation for any reasons whatsoever.
  9. The King’s Harbour Master or his designated Officer may board the vessels to inspect the bunker transfer arrangements at any time.
  10. Vessels are to comply at all times with the provisions of the Dangerous Substances in Harbour Area Regulations, 1987 and must exhibit the warning signals required by Section 8, namely:
    DAY: A red flag (International Code Flag "B")
    NIGHT: An all-round red light, visible 2 miles
  11. Only approved contractor may carry out bunker operations. All non-approved contractors must register with KHM at least 7 days prior to carrying out any bunker operations.
  12. KHM reserves the right to amend or vary all or any of these Conditions from time to time.

Approved Bunkering Contractors

Companies intending to provide ship-to-ship bunkering services within KHM’s jurisdiction will be required to pre-register as approved bunkering contractors. The registration process will require the Bunkering Contractor to provide KHM with:

  1. Technical details of the bunkering barges or tankers.
    Vessel safety plan 
    Oil pollution emergency plan
    Vessel particulars
  2. Copy of the company's safety policies and bunkering procedures / precautions.
    Safety Management Certificate 
    Document of Compliance 
    Safety Management System – Bunkering Operations 
    Bunkering operations check lists
  3. The competency of bunker vessel crews.
    Crew manning Certificates

KHM will maintain current lists of approved bunkering contractors.

VTS Dangerous Goods


  1. All Military vessels are to operate iaw FLOOs, contacting MOVO to coordinate their programme.
  2. All vessels carrying dangerous or polluting goods as classified in the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG), in Chapter 19 of the International Bulk Carriers Code (IBC) and MARPOL (Annex I, II and III) must comply with this Direction in accordance with the Dangerous Substances in the Harbour Areas Regulations 1987 and compliance with MS (Reporting Requirements for Ships Carrying Dangerous or Polluting Goods) Regulations 1995.
  3. Any vessel carrying liquid dangerous substances in bulk within KHM’s area of jurisdiction is required to hold a valid certificate for the carriage of that substance in bulk issued under the authority of the government of the vessel's country of registration.

Inward Vessels

The Master or vessel operator of any vessel carrying dangerous or polluting goods as detailed in (2) entering the Port area is to must ensure that Longroom VTS is advised of such goods prior to entry into the Port. Notification is required 24 hours in advance, but for vessels on short sea trades notification on departure from the previous port is acceptable.

Outward Vessels

The Master, vessel operator or berth operator of any vessel carrying dangerous or polluting goods as detailed in (2) departing a berth from the ports of Cattewater or Millbay or an anchorage within the Authority's area must ensure that Longroom VTS is advised of such goods prior to departure from the berth or anchorage.

Port Information Notification Form

For general arrival notifications, the Estimated Time of Departure (ETD) must always be passed as part of the arrival notification recognising that this may, in some instances, be only a rough estimate.

The time must be updated if the original ETA or ETD changes by more than 6 hours.

The departure notification must include the next port of call and the ETA at the next port (except when no orders have been received where the next port should be indicated as “UNKWN” and no time reported).

Vessels carrying dangerous or polluting goods (DPG) are to give 48Hrs notice including description of cargo, substance id number, quantity/weight and appropriate classification in accordance with the Dangerous Substances in Harbour (DSHA) Regulations 1987.

Important – An accurate draught is essential to enable passage planning and/or anchorage allocation and must be supplied with confirmed notice. Any subsequent changes must be communicated to KHM Plymouth as soon as known.

Failure to provide this may affect the provision of a pilot as requested.

This form may be faxed to KHM Plymouth, Longroom Port Control Station 
+44 (0)1752 836401 or emailed to [email protected]

A copy should be forwarded to Cattewater Harbour Commissioners and Plymouth Pilots.

[email protected] or faxed to 01752 253624

[email protected] or faxed to 01752 669691