Ensign large yacht services: advice notes on surveys
Advice notes for those who wish to have their vessel projects surveyed.
Ensign is the Large Yacht Unit of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). They carry out the surveys on large commercial yachts with the UK flag.
This guidance is for:
- large yacht owners
Carrying out surveys on non-UK or unknown flags
Ensign can still carry out a survey for compliance with the large yacht codes (LYCs), even where the eventual flag is unknown, or other than British.
The Red Ensign Group administration should be approached for surveys if the flag is theirs but not UK (for example Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, British Virgin Islands, or the Isle of Man).
Documentation issued by Ensign
This could be either:
- a charter yacht certificate
- a letter of compliance
These may not have any official standing with other flag authorities, but they do indicate a standard of safety as required by the LYC.
Advice for yacht builders
When drawing up contracts that call for a charter yacht certificate, please note: some items, such as crew qualifications and ISM requirements, are beyond the builder’s control and in the hands of the owner.
In such cases a Letter of Compliance should be requested.
What MCA and classification (class) societies survey
MCA and the classification society carry out their surveys under different parts of the LYCs.
For example, you’ll see that a large part, comprising the hull and machinery, falls to the class society. Ensign carries out the plan approval and survey for the sections assigned to MCA.
An Ensign surveyor would probably visit a minimum of 3 times:
- once at an early stage
- once to witness stability tests (when construction is 98% complete)
- a final visit on completion
This is dependent on location, and how well surveys are presented.
For the sections of the code that fall to MCA, the drawing list helps in completing the survey. It’s best to submit these early in the project, to prevent any problems once construction is complete.
Documents required from class societies
- A statement indicating that their assigned sections of the Code have been satisfactorily completed. (Ensign requires this to issue the final documentation.)
- an International Load Line Certificate should be issued using the relaxations permitted by the Code
- a certificate of commercial classification
- a Cargo Ship Construction Certificate (if the vessel is over 500GT)
Classification societies recognised by MCA
- American Bureau of Shipping (ABS)
- Bureau Veritas (BV)
- Det Norske Veritas - Germanischer Lloyd (DNV GL)
- Lloyds Register (LR)
- Registro Italiano Navale (RINA)
- Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (NKK)
The large yacht code
The ‘Large Commercial Yacht Code’ was updated from LY2 to LY3 in August 2013.
The full name of the original Code was the ‘Code of Practice for Safety of Large Commercial Sailing and Motor Vessels’ (now known as LY1).
Ensign’s fees are £160 per hour for plan approval, survey and travel, plus expenses.
They are required to take a deposit in advance, and to keep the account in credit afterwards. A 50% surcharge applies for travel or survey on a Sunday or bank holiday.
Please note: Ensign has no involvement with the fees charged by the classification society.
Apply to have a survey carried out
To arrange the survey, complete the:
Return the forms to Ensign at:
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 496 9917
Fax: +44 (0) 191 496 9923
Maritime and Coastguard Agency
Tyne & Wear