King's Harbour Master Portsmouth


1. Mariners are advised that The Queen’s Harbour Master Portsmouth has made the following General Direction under the Dockyard Port of Portsmouth Order 2005 that the regulations herein are in force to govern the passing of ships underway in the channel and harbour north of Saddle Buoy. This General Direction is introduced to reflect the changes to the Portsmouth approach channel and the arrival of the Queen Elizabeth Class (QEC) aircraft carriers. 

2. As part of the major Capital Dredging project to prepare the harbour to be the base port and main operating base for the QEC, the approach channel has been significantly widened from Saddle Buoy to Numbers 3 and 4 Bar Buoys. This is now assessed as being wide enough to allow the passing of larger vessels underway in the approach channel. In addition, the presence of one or both QEC vessels on Princess Royal Jetty (formerly Middle Slip Jetty) and/or Victory Jetty in due course has major implications on traffic management within the harbour. At just under 75 metres wide, and with relatively deep draught, it will no longer be possible for larger vessels to safely pass each other underway and a QEC vessel alongside in the main harbour.

3. The traffic guidance below has been designed to take account of all vessels planned and currently using the harbour. In exceptional circumstances, after considering the relative risks, the Vessel Traffic Services Supervisor (VTSS) on watch will decide, if any deviation from this guidance can be permitted.

4. Passing Areas. The following passing areas are established, tied to sizes of vessels and weather conditions:

South of Saddle Buoy

The navigable waters south of Saddle Buoy.

Bar Channel

The navigable waters of the approach channel from a line joining Outer Spit Buoy and Saddle Buoy to a line joining Numbers 3 Bar and 4 Bar Buoys.

Main Harbour (South)

The navigable waters of the approach channel and the main channel of the harbour between a line joining 3 Bar and 4 Bar Buoys and a line joining the southern Oil Fuel Jetty Dolphin to the stern of HMS Warrior.

Main Harbour (North)

The navigable waters of the main channel between: To the east – a line joining North Corner and 98 Pile. To the northwest – a line joining 98 Pile and Shell Pier Light. To the south – a line joining the stern of HMS Warrior 1860 and the southernmost Oil Fuel Jetty dolphin.

Tidal Basin

The navigable waters of the main channel between to the east – a line joining Fountain Lake Corner and 103 Pile and to the west – a line joining North Corner and 98 Pile.

5. Holding Area. The following Holding Area is established for use by RORO ferries (pilots on smaller cruise liners may also request to use this area, but the final decision will remain with the VTSS) to wait for inbound/outbound vessels to pass as agreed in advance with QHM Harbour Control when the Upper Harbour Ammunition Facility (UHAF) is not in operation and winds are less than 30 knots:

The navigable waters to the north and west of a line between 98 Pile and the northerly buoy of B Trot (50 48.4N 001 08.3W) and south and east of a line between 95 Pile and Powder Jetty light.

6. Passing matrix:



1. QEC will have a 250 metres Exclusion Zone in force when underway and are not to be passed by any vessel once north of Saddle. This will includeclosure of the Small Boat Channel.

2. Outbound vessels are to take care to ensure they do not encroach on the Small Boat Channel, particularly when passing inbound vessels.

3. At VTSS discretion, larger ships may be allowed to pass each other in Tidal Basin if no QEC vessel is in harbour and Tidal Basin occupancy is low.

4. Notwithstanding the RORO holding area established at paragraph 5 above other large commercial vessels will not be permitted to pass OSB if a QECvessel is in harbour until their berth is clear – holding in harbour will not be permitted. Without a QEC in harbour, holding may be permitted at the VTSS’s discretion in wind speeds below 30 knots.

5. RORO ferries and cruise liners above 20,000 tonnes are required to have a tug with a bollard pull over 26 tonnes in attendance if the wind is above 30knots, and two such tugs if the wind is above 45 knots. The decision on how to employ allocated tugs remains with the Master or pilot (where carried). For PEC vessels, a pilot is available at notice and may be requested to assist with tug control if required.

6. If a QEC vessel is in port, large cargo vessels above 205 metres in length are to have a 26 tonne plus bollard pull tug connected in both the bow and i n the stern while passing the QEC berth.

 7. General Directions 4/10 (RO-RO Ferries) and 6/10 (Passing Places) are hereby cancelled.


Monday 19 Jun 2017