Harbour Formalities

A good harbour

When calling at a port, it is the responsibility of the master of the ship or ship's owner to verify the following technical parameters:

The Limits of the Harbour
This can be important to determine where the pilot must be boarded or to determine when the ship is an "arrived ship". The latter is important to calculate the laydays in accordance with the terms of the Charter-Party.

Anchorage or Anchorages
Especially important if the ship carries dangerous goods and is required to anchor in an isolated place for safety reasons.

Eventual Restrictions
Especially important for vessels entering a harbour, for example at night or in accordance with the tide or draught of the vessel. Always plan the voyage in such a way that the ship can enter the harbour when the tide allows, with minimal delays. Attempt to avoid delays at all costs.

The Maximum Dimension
Before securing the Charter-Party be sure that the vessel does not exceed the allowed dimensions (length, width, displacement, air draught, draught)

Locks are often the cause of delays and can be the cause of extra damage.

  • The number and power of available tugs.
  • The number of tugs the ship is obliged to take.
  • The place where the tugs have to be moored and which tow lines must be used (i.e. those from the ship or those from the tug).
  • The pilot will usually give enough information. In some harbours, the use of tugs is not required. In other harbours, the use of tugs is mandatory.

    To avoid an unpleasant and possibly costly surprise, always inquire about the price of tug service in advance. The decision to use tugs or not, for cost reasons, should never be made at the expense of the safety of the ship or the harbour.
Mooring Berths
Assemble as much information as possible: length of quays, depth alongside, maximum draught at low water, available loading and discharging installations, number of sheds, hangars or terminals, etc.

The times the bridges can be passed. Also obtain tolerances regarding width and height.

  • Is pilotage mandatory?
  • How to contact the pilot station?
  • How many hours before arrival must you transmit your ETA?.
  • What are the VHF frequencies of the pilot station?
  • How can the pilot boat be identified?
  • Which signals are to be used?
  • Where is the pilot station located?
  • Under what circumstances would the pilotage be suspended?
  • What actions should be taken in the event of pilotage interruption? (i.e. sail without a pilot, go at anchor?, etc).
  • Is there a shore radar service that can assist you?

Radio Stations
Frequency and call sign of the radio station that allows you to transmit your ETA or to contact your agent.

Any information regarding:
  • approach and presence of hazards;
  • shipping movements;
  • berthing prospects;
  • harbour facilities;
  • quays;
  • quarantine;
  • etc.
Any information regarding:
  • port radar service;
  • Vessel Traffic Management Service (V.T.S.);
All information about harbours can be found in www.maritimeknowhow.com/harbour(under construction) and in specialized publications such as, Guide to Port Entry (http://www.portinfo.co.uk/) or Ports of the World (http://www.ports-of-the-world.org/)