About us

We work to prevent the loss of life on the coast and at sea. We produce legislation and guidance on maritime matters, and provide certification to seafarers.

We provide a 24-hour maritime search and rescue service around the UK coast, and international search and rescue through HM Coastguard.

Who we are

We are a team of 1,050 staff and 3,500 volunteers. Our headquarters are in Southampton and we have offices and co-ordination centres around the UK coast.


We are responsible for:

  • the safety of everybody in a vessel in UK waters
  • the safety of all seafarers on UK flagged vessels
  • making sure all equipment on UK vessels is fit for purpose
  • making sure all seafarers on UK vessels have correct documentation
  • the environmental safety of UK coast and waters
  • the accuracy of hydrographic data on UK charts
  • overseeing coastal rescue volunteers, hydrographics, seafarer certification and the port state control inspection regime


From 2019 to 2020, our priorities will be to:

  • The agency will be providing more resource to focus on suicide prevention to provide a consistent national approach, using local solutions. We will help deliver the aims of this strategy using an evidence-based approach, continuing to provide data for the national water Incident database (WAID)
  • We are working on a joint community safety programme trial with the RNLI, bringing together our volunteers in local communities to share resources, provide consistent safety messages and raise awareness of the roles of our organisations. We aim to role this out on a national basis
  • Our aim is to enhance co-operation between government departments in the UK, overseas territories and crown dependencies to develop a better understanding of the III code and the consequences of failure to comply, encouraging a collaborative approach to demonstrate compliance. Alongside our Red Ensign Group (REG) partners, we will develop a strategy to achieve full compliance as a flag, port and coastal state with the requirements of international maritime conventions and to prepare the UK flag state for audit against the III code standard
  • The initial review of the human element, leadership and management syllabus has been completed and work to develop this will be carried out in 2019-20. Working with a wide range of industry stakeholders, the intention is to create a syllabus and training programme that remains best in class to serve the modern maritime industry
  • We remain committed to supporting the UK wide coastal local resilience forums (LRFs), who’s aims are to plan and prepare for localised incidents and catastrophic emergencies, and we will continue to contribute to the mitigation of local risks.
  • We will continue with a series of projects using ambulatory reference that aims to provide a more streamlined and responsive introduction of future changes to international maritime conventions and there are currently several projects that will introduce ambulatory reference at various stages of transposition
  • To remain in the upper quartile of both the Paris Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and the Tokyo MoU White Lists of Quality Flag States.

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