Solent Pilotage and VTS

Welcome to Solent Pilotage. The Solent is one of the busiest waterways in Europe with a mix of commercial, recreational and military traffic. It is also a complex tapestry of maritime jurisdictions and responsibilities that are a result of history. A diagram showing approximate boundaries for CHAs and the Dockyard Port of Portsmouth can be found below.

Solent Ports and Harbours

The Solent includes five main ports, four of which (ABP Southampton, Portsmouth International Port, Langstone Harbour and Cowes) are Competent Harbour Authorities (CHA) with their own pilotage directions. The fifth is the Dockyard Port of Portsmouth, controlled by the Queen’s Harbour Master (QHM) in Portsmouth who has statutory responsibilities for both the waters inside Portsmouth Harbour and for 50 square miles of the Solent. QHM's statutory powers are extensive, including powers to close areas to non-military traffic and impose exclusion zones around vessels. Many of QHM's regulations have been issued as General Directions which should be checked on QHM’s website. Agreement between the harbour authorities means that vessels requiring pilotage to transit between the outer reaches of the Solent and a particular port are to follow the pilotage direction for that port. Some nuances apply and the relevant direction should be consulted before passage.

Summary of Pilotage Requirements

VTS

Vessel Traffic Services (VTS)

Two of the harbour authorities in the area, ABP Southampton and the Dockyard Port of Portsmouth (QHM Portsmouth), operate Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) which provide TOS information (Traffic Organisation Service).

ABP Southampton provides the VTS service for the majority of the Central and Eastern Solent despite the majority of the water coming under the jurisdiction of QHM Portsmouth, this is due to the MOU, Memorandum Of Understanding, between the two authorities.

QHM provides a VTS service for Portsmouth Harbour North of a line joining Horse Sand Fort, Outer Spit Buoy and Fort Gilkicker Light.  The VTS services are linked and constant liaison is maintained between the two authorities. QHM operates on VHF Channel 11 and Southampton VTS operates on VHF Channel 12.

Pilotage and Towage for warships

Pilotage and Towage for warships

Warships above a length of 48 metres are required to take an Admiralty Pilot or hold a R.N. PEC inline with the Portsmouth commercial requirement. Details of warship pilotage and towage requirements are contained in the QHM Portsmouth Defence Pilotage and Towage Directions. This is intended for Defence users only and can be obtained by contacting QHM Portsmouth. In addition, the QHM Portsmouth Code of Practice for the Embarkation and Disembarkation of Admiralty Pilots acts as a guide to safe practice in the boarding and landing of Admiralty Pilots by pilot boat in the Dockyard Port of Portsmouth and is commended to all those involved in the provision of a pilotage service.

Pilotage Exemption Certificate

Pilotage Exemption Certificate

In addition to the exemptions detailed below, each CHA may issue Pilotage Exemption Certificates (PEC). Regulations pertaining to PECs for each port can be found in the relevant directions. Portsmouth International Port (commercial) Require vessels above 48m or vessels over 20 meters length carrying more than twelve passengers, take a compulsory PIP Pilot. Southampton ABP Pilots require vessels above 60m or vessels over 20 meters length carrying more than twelve passengers, take a compulsory ABP Pilots.

Other references

Other references

All the necessary details for day-to-day operation of the Solent can be found on the relevant charts and in the appropriate Admiralty Sailing Directions and Admiralty List of Radio Signals. In addition, both Southampton and QHM issue Local Notices to Mariners for special events in the Solent. The regulations for QHM's area can be found in the Dockyard Port Regulation Act of 1865 and the Dockyard Port or Portsmouth Order 2005.

PORTSMOUTH INTERNATIONAL PORT

Compulsory pilotage is required for vessels of 48 metres or more LOA, and also for vessels of 20 metres or more LOA carrying more than 12 passengers.

Exemptions: A vessel in transit through the Solent (see LNTMS for more details), a vessel in Government service except when berthing or unberthing an any non-MoD facility, a vessel with an Admiralty Pilot embarked while proceeding to or from any MoD facility, a vessel less than 150 metres LOA proceeding to or from the central Solent to an anchorage in St Helen’s Roads or a vessel of overall length not greater than 150 metres while to the South of a line joining Nettlestone Point to the Warner Buoy, then the Cambrian Wreck Buoy then North to the shoreline.

PIP contact details:
Phone: +44(0)23 9285 5900
Fax: +44(0)23 9275 3029

Email Portsmouth International Port

COWES

Compulsory pilotage is required for vessels of 48 metres or more LOA, passenger ferries and passenger vessels of 20 metres or more LOA carrying more than 12 passengers and vessels or combination of vessels with a beam of more than 15 metres.

Exemptions: HM Ships, MoD owned and operated vessels, Naval vessels belonging to a foreign government, passenger ferries and passenger vessels less than 20 metres LOA, other vessels less than 48 metres LOA.

Cowes contact details: 
Agent PD Port Services
Phone: +44(0)19 83 292501
Email: [email protected]
 
Harbour Commission: 
Phone: +44(0)1983 293952 

 

email cowes harbour commission

LANGSTONE HARBOUR

Compulsory pilotage is required for vessels of 48 metres or more LOA and vessels 20 metres or more LOA carrying more than 12 passengers.

Exemptions: Vessels transiting the southern area of Langstone Harbour south of the Langstone Fairway Buoy (See directions for details). Vessels going to anchorage in St Helen’s Roads except vessels departing Langstone Harbour. Vessels carrying out dredging activity in a dredging area licensed by the Crown Estate south of the Langstone Fairway Pile. Vessels in Government service except when berthing or unberthing at any non-MoD facility.

Langstone Harbour contact details:
Harbour Office
Phone: +44(0)23 9246 3419

Email Langstone Harbour

ABP SOUTHAMPTON

Compulsory pilot is required for vessels of 61 metres or more in length overall (LOA), and also for vessels of 20 metres or more LOA carrying 12 or more passengers. The length of a tug and tow is interpreted as the distance from the forward end of the towing vessel to the stern of the last vessel towed.  

VTS Centre contact details:
Phone: +44(0)23 8060 8208  
Fax:  +44(0)23 80232991

Email ABP Southampton