The New Boatmasters Licence


A presentation on the new Boatmasters Licence was given by Richard Dale at the MVS 2014 AGM in Liverpool.

Richard told those present that the MCA are bringing in this revised qualification from 31 December 2014.

The Boatmasters licence applies to Rivers, Canals and Estuaries plus limited coastal areas.

Skippers holding the appropriate qualifications for MVS vessels coded under MCA publication MGN 280 for operation at sea are exempt from these requirements if they are in command of a coded vessel.

Richard said that MVS HQ had identified that it would be very difficult and expensive for MVS skippers to qualify for the new Boatmasters Licence so MVS HQ had negotiated the following concessions from MCA:

MCA has agreed that MVS Skippers commanding vessels considered to be engaged in low risk operations do not need to comply with these regulations.

Vessels operating in low risk conditions are defined as less than 24m, engaged in low risk operations within categorised waters that are under the control/direction of the local harbour authority or, where no local harbour authority exists, the relevant authority.

This is subject to the conditions below plus the skipper needs to hold an appropriate qualification acceptable to the local harbour authority or relevant authority, examples include:

RYA Powerboat Level 2 (without commercial endorsement) – daytime operations
RYA Advanced Powerboat (without commercial endorsement) – night time operations.

Examples of such low risk operations include:

Harbour patrols/pilot boat operations
Hydrographic surveys
Checking navigational lights
Supporting local, civil and military authorities
Collection of harbour dues from visiting yachts
Providing safety boat cover to volunteers cleaning river or canal banks and similar low risk activities.

The conditions that MVS has to comply with are:

1) That the AVO, RVO and HoU have carried out and agreed a risk assessment of the operation and taken any measures necessary to reduce all risks to “low” level of likelihood and a “low” severity of harm or found that any risks have a “low” risk of likelihood of harm and “low” severity of harm.

2) The MVS skipper of the vessel has received appropriate training or experience to minimise the risks identified plus  the skipper and crew are trained in the safe operation of such vessels  and provide and maintain a safe place of work.

“Small vessels” are defined as vessels which do not carry more than 12 passengers (if any) which in the judgment of the Secretary of State do not pose a risk to other vessels operating in the same area.

“Non navigable waters” means waterways which are not open for the normal passage of vessels but admit the access of vessels for maintenance works and similar limited purposes.

MVS RVOs, and HoUs are asked to speak to their local harbour authorities or the equivalents (may include Environment Agency or local authorities) to ensure that they operate under these concessions.

MVS HoUs and RVOs may wish to offer to help the Harbour Authority when they are engaged in training trips by eg reporting anything suspicious or navigational marking not in the correct location, lights not working, etc.

More details can be found at the link below.