KHM Portsmouth

King's Harbour Master Portsmouth.

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About KHM Portsmouth

The King’s Harbour Master (KHM) Portsmouth is the regulatory authority of the Dockyard Port of Portsmouth, an area of approximately 55 square miles that encompasses Portsmouth Harbour and the Eastern Solent.

The primary purpose of the KHM is to protect the Port, the Royal Navy and its vessels and other government assets. With regulatory power comes far wider responsibilities, ranging from environmental issues such as oil pollution control and conservation to the management of the water space for all users, be they military, commercial or recreational. To help meet these responsibilities KHM chairs the Dockyard Port Forum (DPF), is vice chair of the Solent Forum, a member of the Portsmouth Harbour Management Group and Relevant Authority for the Solent European Marine Sites (SEMS) project.

KHM and his staff of 30 carry out a wide range of duties on behalf of the Naval Base Commander to ensure that the 80,000 yearly shipping movements under their control are safely carried out and with the minimum impact to the surrounding area.

Port information

Portsmouth is one of the busiest harbours in the country and in addition to the larger vessel movements around 3500 recreational vessels are licensed to moor in the harbour.

Traffic co-ordination for shipping entering and leaving Portsmouth Harbour is performed by harbour control which is manned 24 hours a day by a watch of 3. All vessels over 20 metres LOA must obtain permission before entering, leaving or moving within the harbour.

Portsmouth Harbour is a very large natural harbour almost completely landlocked except for the narrow entrance. The approaches themselves are also well sheltered by the Isle of Wight.

Admiralty Pilots provide pilotage support to warships entering and leaving the harbour, but also when they move between berths and docks within the harbour. When ships are taken into or out of dry dock, they will always be involved and responsible for the safety of the ships for the majority of the evolution.

In 1865 the Dockyard Ports Regulation Act was passed, which gives KHM quite extensive powers. The main purpose of KHM is to oversee and enforce the act. Cascading from this piece of primary legislation is the Order in Council relating to KHM’s area, The Dockyard Port of Portsmouth Order 2005. Together, the act and the order provide KHM with powers to issue directions to all vessels within the Dockyard Port, be they commercial, private or military. The powers of the KHM are also delegated to specifically authorised deputies and assistants, including VTS Officers.

The limits of the Dockyard Port cover not only Portsmouth Harbour itself, but also all the waters from Cowes in the west to Hayling Island and down to Sandown Bay in the east with the single exception of Bembridge Harbour. The naval base itself comprises only a small part of the geographical area of the Dockyard Port.


Notices to mariners

Report an incident

To report an incident please complete this form.

Access services

You can access a range of KHM Portsmouth services such as tidal data, our Safety Management System and useful information for port users here

How to contact KHM Portsmouth

By post:

King's Harbour Master Portsmouth
Semaphore Tower
HM Naval Base

By telephone:

02392 723694 (24hr)

By Very High Frequency channel:

CH 11 or 13

By email: