Monday, September 25, 2023

Boat Safety Scheme

 Narrowboats are beloved for their cosy interiors, leisurely pace, and the sense of freedom they provide as they glide through picturesque waterways. However, ensuring safety on these charming vessels is paramount. One crucial aspect of narrowboat safety is the Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) examination. In this post, we'll explore the importance of BSS examinations for narrowboats and why they are a vital part of your boating journey.

Safety on the Waterways

Before we delve into BSS examinations, let's emphasise the significance of safety when navigating the canals and rivers of the UK. These waterways, while enchanting, can pose unique challenges, from changing weather conditions to complex lock systems. To ensure a safe and enjoyable journey, it's essential to prioritise safety at all times.

The Boat Safety Scheme (BSS)

The Boat Safety Scheme, often referred to as the "MOT for boats," is a comprehensive safety examination designed to promote safe boating practices and protect lives on the water. It applies to many types of boats, including narrowboats, and covers various safety aspects:

1. Gas Systems: One of the primary focuses of the BSS examination is the gas system. Gas leaks or malfunctions can lead to dangerous situations. The examination ensures that gas systems are properly installed, maintained, and safe to use.

2. Electrical Systems: The BSS examination checks the boat's electrical systems to identify any faults or hazards. Ensuring that electrical systems are in good working order is crucial for fire prevention.

3. Fire Safety: Narrowboats often use solid fuel stoves for heating. The BSS examination assesses the safety of these stoves, chimney systems, and fire prevention measures.

4. Ventilation: Adequate ventilation is essential to prevent the buildup of harmful gases like carbon monoxide. The examination checks that boats are properly ventilated to protect occupants.

Why BSS Examinations Matter

Safety First: The primary reason for BSS examinations is safety. They help identify potential hazards and ensure that your narrowboat complies with safety standards, reducing the risk of accidents.

Legal Requirement: BSS examinations are a legal requirement for most boats using the inland waterways. Compliance is necessary to obtain a navigation license.

Peace of Mind: Knowing that your narrowboat has passed a BSS examination provides peace of mind for both you and your passengers. It confirms that you've taken steps to prioritise safety.

Environmental Protection: The BSS examination also helps protect the environment by ensuring that boats are equipped with proper sewage and pollution control systems.


When it comes to enjoying the serenity of narrowboat life, safety should always be a top priority. BSS examinations play a crucial role in ensuring that your vessel meets safety standards, protecting you, your passengers, and the environment. So, before you set sail on your next narrowboat adventure, make sure your boat has undergone a BSS examination. It's a vital step in navigating the waterways safely and responsibly, allowing you to enjoy your journey to the fullest.

Friday, September 22, 2023

 The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has recommended that the provisions of an international convention aimed at addressing shipping fraud be incorporated into UK law, further strengthening maritime security and safety.

Today, a consultation has been initiated to gather feedback on the provisions outlined in the Draft Merchant Shipping (Special Measures to Enhance Maritime Safety) Regulations for 2024.

The endorsement of these regulations, already enshrined in international maritime law, would formally integrate them into UK legislation, allowing for their full enforcement within national waters.

Among the stipulations are the mandatory assignment of identification numbers to most vessels, along with their owners and operators. Additionally, ships would be required to maintain a comprehensive operational history known as a "continuous synopsis record."

These requirements apply to a broad spectrum of ships engaged in international passenger and cargo transportation, encompassing several smaller domestic vessels as well. In particular, oil tankers would need to undergo surveys in accordance with the International Code on the Enhanced Programme of Inspections during Surveys of Bulk Carriers and Oil Tankers.

Katy Ware, Director of UK Maritime Services, remarked:

"These proposed new measures serve a twofold purpose by combatting fraud and concurrently enhancing safety for both sailors and passengers. They underscore the UK's unwavering commitment to maritime safety and its resolute stance against criminal activities."

These provisions encompass various safety obligations and are implemented through several distinct instruments. By deterring fraudulent activities, these requirements are designed to elevate the safety and security standards within the shipping industry.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

 MCA has released MIN 664 (M) Amendment 2: Safety climate tool (SCT) for the maritime industry


Safety culture refers to the shared beliefs, perceptions, and attitudes about safety within an organization. Poor safety culture has been identified as a root cause of many maritime accidents. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has partnered with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to adapt the safety climate tool (SCT) for the maritime industry to measure and enhance safety culture on board.


Safety culture encompasses the collective beliefs and attitudes employees hold about safety in an organization.

Inadequate safety culture is often a fundamental factor in workplace incidents, which can be particularly severe or fatal in the remote settings of seafaring roles.

The maritime sector has seen poor safety culture contribute to significant incidents, including the Titanic, the Herald of Free Enterprise, and the Costa Concordia.

A positive safety culture can lead to increased productivity, improved company reputation, and reduced accidents.

Indications of a poor safety culture include routine procedural violations, failure to adhere to safety rules, and management decisions that prioritize production or cost over safety.

Maritime Safety Climate Tool (SCT):

The SCT assesses individuals' attitudes toward health and safety within an organization, offering an objective measure of safety culture. This version of the tool is tailored to the maritime industry's specific needs.

Using a user-friendly online questionnaire that ensures respondent anonymity, the SCT explores employees' attitudes and perceptions regarding health and safety. After completing the survey, it generates a comprehensive report and provides guidance for improving safety culture.

Benefits of the maritime SCT include:

  • Tailoring to the maritime industry's needs, including demographics and job roles breakdown.
  • Benchmarking against industry standards.
  • Automatic analysis and generation of summary reports.
  • Comparison of employee and management results.
  • Customized reports highlighting priorities.
  • Recommendations for addressing identified issues.
  • Convenient use via a secure web account.

For more information on the maritime SCT, including webinars demonstrating its usage, visit the Health and Safety Executive website.

Wellbeing at Sea Tool:

The MCA has introduced the Wellbeing at Sea Tool, a digital survey completed by seafarers. It offers personalized advice on improving wellbeing at sea and collects anonymized data to help managers identify areas for improvement and best practices. For additional details on this voluntary tool, refer to MIN 680 (M) Wellbeing at Sea.

By utilizing the SCT and Wellbeing at Sea Tool, the maritime industry aims to enhance safety culture and the overall wellbeing of seafarers.

Stability guidelines and loadline information has been updated:

This guide covers the UK and international codes and standards for vessel stability and loadlines, stability approval, stability information books, and stability guidance - grouped according to vessel type.

It is aimed at boatmasters assessing vessel stability, vessel designers and shipbuilders. The guide also includes advice on maintaining safety on board your vessel, guidance for surveyors, and how you can comply with the regulations.

Load lines, marks and load line certificates
Ship stability is underpinned by the UK’s load line regime, which imposes requirements on certain ships to meet stability criteria. Ships conforming with the load line requirements are issued with certificates, and no ship to which the load line requirements applies may proceed to sea without a valid certificate.

Load line certificates are issued by MCA surveyors. However, vessel owners and masters should be involved with the periodical inspection of vessels. Find guidance on load line certificates for surveyors.

Load line regulations
The Merchant Shipping (Load Line) Regulations 1998 are the UK’s legislation on loadline. Find the Merchant Shipping (Load Line) Regulations 1998.

The Merchant Shipping (Load Line) (Amendment) Regulations 2000 amends the load line requirements for different types of vessels, operating in varying seasonal zones and periods. Read MSN 1752 Amended Merchant Shipping (Load Line) Regulations 1998

How to record freeboard information in log books
Masters of Ro-Ro passenger vessels must record data on freeboard, stability and recording of draughts in their official log books.

Access of water through spurling pipes
Specific guidance has been issued to vessel masters to ensure that excess water cannot access the vessel through the spurling pipes - apertures allowing anchor chains to enter chain lockers through the forecastle deck. Read MSN 622 Miscellaneous openings: spurling pipes

Specific freeboard and stability guidance according to vessel type
Guidance for marine surveyors assessing passenger vessel construction has been produced by the MCA. Read the Merchant Shipping (Ro-Ro Passenger Ships) (Stability) Regulations 2004.

Ro-Ro passenger vessels
Ro-Ro passenger vessels must meet the survivability requirements - eg time required for the evacuation of everyone on board - agreed as part of the 1995 amendments to the SOLAS convention (the ‘Stockholm Agreement’). Read the Merchant Shipping (Ro-Ro Passenger Ships) (Stability) Regulations 2004.

The MCA document MSN 1790 (M) explains how EU Directive 2003/25/EC has been incorporated into UK law, in the form of the Merchant Shipping (Ro-Ro Passenger Ships) (Stability) Regulations 2004.Read MSN 1790 Stability requirements for ro-ro passenger ships

There are specific stability requirements for Ro-Ro passenger ships. Read the Merchant Shipping (Ro-Ro Passenger Ships) (Stability) Regulations 2004.

The MCA has published dynamic stability modelling guidance for designers of high-speed craft. Read MGN 327(M) High speed craft dynamic stability research

Bulk Carriers
Bulk carriers of 150 metres’ length and above, carrying high-density dry bulk cargoes, must meet additional safety measures. Read MGN 668 (M) Amendment 1: Additional safety measures for bulk carriers

The hardware and software of hull stress monitoring systems must be approved by the MCA or by a nominated body, such as a classification society. Read MGN 108 (M) Hull stress monitoring systems

Precautions against flooding of forward compartments - particularly for bulk carriers - are set out in the MCA document MGN 210 (M). Read MGN 210 (M)

Cargo vessels of 80 metres and over
MSN 1715 (M) outlines damage stability requirements for cargo vessels of 80 metres and above, aimed at shipbuilders, marine architects and masters. Read 1715 part 1.doc

Stability approval by classification societies
The MCA has agreements with Classification Societies so that they may carry out surveys of vessel stability as part of the safety certification process. For more information, see the guide on how to prepare and apply for a vessel survey.

Before construction of a vessel begins, the owner must submit structural plans of the hull, subdivisions, bulkheads and construction materials to the relevant society. Read Stability guidance and load lines

Owners of certain vessels must also submit stability calculations to classification societies to prove the vessel meets the damage stability requirements outlined in the MCA’s MSN 1698 (M). Read MSN 1698 (M) The Merchant Shipping (Passenger Ship Construction: Ships of Classes I, II and II(A) Regulations 1998 - SI 1998/2514)

Boat Safety Scheme

 Narrowboats are beloved for their cosy interiors, leisurely pace, and the sense of freedom they provide as they glide through picturesque w...