Safety of Navigation

The harbour limits of the Ports of South Wales, are defined formally in the relevant British Transport Docks Acts 1972, and encompass areas as shown on Admiralty Charts 1161 and 1182. Within these areas Associated British Ports (ABP), the owner and operator of the Ports of Swansea, Port Talbot, Barry and Cardiff, is the Statutory Harbour Authority, the Competent Harbour Authority and the Local Lighthouse Authority with responsibility, respectively, for safety of navigation, pilotage and fixed and floating aids to navigation. In the River Usk these functions are provided by Newport Harbour Commissioners.

With several thousand shipping movements recorded annually it is essential that commercial and leisure interests coexist within the harbours in absolute safety. To achieve this objective, in addition to the statutory requirements of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972 (as amended), the various port bye-laws, and all applicable maritime legislation, the following guidance is given to persons with specific responsibility for small vessels [1]:

  • Keep clear of the main shipping channel when commercial vessels are approaching or departing.

  • Keep to the edge and avoid navigating in the deep water in the centre of the channel. If it is necessary to cross a channel do so as quickly as possible and at a right angle.

  • Do not anchor or wait (underway but not making way) in the approaches or the main shipping channel. In Cardiff this requirement is of particular relevance to small vessels waiting to enter Cardiff Bay Barrage Outer Harbour.Avoid approaching too close to commercial vessels. A ship's master on the bridge wing on one side of a large ship can quickly lose sight of a small vessel passing down the ship's opposite side. Even on a relatively small commercial vessel a master will be unable to see a small vessel crossing his bow at a distance of less than 500 metres. Be aware that commercial vessels can not stop or turn quickly and may, because of their draught, be extremely limited in their ability to manoeuvre.

  • Be aware that the tidal streams within the harbours can be extreme. The Bristol Channel has one of the highest tidal ranges in the world.

  • Be aware that commercial vessels may have attendant tugs working some distance from the vessel, and that tugs can, and frequently do, travel sideways as well as ahead and astern.

  • Notify South Local Port Services of any incident, close quarters situation or accident observed or experienced within any of the harbours and any defective aid to navigation. Local Port Services may be contacted on VHF ( details avaliable in ALRS Voume 6 part 1 ) or by telephone on 0845 6018870

  • Be aware of the content of all local Notices to Mariners promulgated by ABP by checking club notice boards and on
    1] "small vessel" means any vessel of less than 20 metres in length or a sailing vessel and for the purposes of this definition "sailing vessel" means a vessel designed to carry sail, whether as the sole or as a primary or supplementary means of propulsion. 2] Please note that all calls to this number are recorded.