UK Workboats to Be Subject to New Standards

UK Workboats to Be Subject to New Standards

Following a public consultation, the UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has introduced both a new statutory instrument (SI) and an accompanying new code of practice covering the safety of small workboats and pilot boats. 

The statutory instrument is The Merchant Shipping (Small Workboats and Pilot Boats) Regulations 2023.

The new code, which has been titled The Workboat Code Edition 3: The Safety of Small Workboats and Pilot Boats - A Code of Practice, was published on 27th November 2023 and will enter into force on 13th December 2023.

The organisations that participated in the Industry Working Group that contributed to the drafting of the code of practice include; British Marine, International Institute of Marine Surveying, Lloyd’s Register, Mecal, Royal Yachting Association, Society of Consulting Marine Engineers and Ship Surveyors, The Workboat Association, and the Yacht Designers and Surveyors Association. 

The statutory instrument and code of practice apply to workboats, including remotely operated unmanned vessels operating as workboats (including pilot boats which are less than 24m load line length). 

The SI updates the provisions made in the previous 1998 regulations, setting out in greater detail the application and certification process for vessels, the requirements on owners and masters to report incidents, the processes to be followed where a vessel is deficient or detained, and the penalties that can arise if Regulations are breached. 

The SI also makes a number of other important changes, including:

  • Setting out the process that applies if a surveyor determines that a vessel is deficient to the extent that it does not correspond with the particulars under which it was certified or if it poses a danger to the vessel or persons on board.
  • Providing for disputes in relation to survey outcomes to be settled by arbitration. 

In short, both the SI and the accompanying code of practice set out a complete compliance regime for the types of vessels they are intended to cover.

The new Workboat Code Edition 3 can be accessed here

Need legal support and advice? 

Then speak to Shearwater Law today. As an experienced maritime law firm, Shearwater Law is well aware of the legal disputes that can arise in the world of commercial shipping. 

As the story above makes clear, workboats and small commercial vessels are covered by a panoply of legislation, by-laws and codes of practice, with breaches of these potentially leading to serious consequences. 

Find out more about our legal services for small commercial vessel owners and operators

Charles Patterson
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