Guidance

Inland waterway vessels: construction and maintenance standards

Codes, best practice guides, standards and classifications that vessel owners, operators, designers and builders should refer to.

Introduction

When designing and constructing a boat’s hull, the materials and equipment you use must be suitable for the service they are intended for. You must also make sure that the boat’s structural strength is adequate for the safe operation of the vessel in the areas it’s intended for.

The standards for designing, constructing and maintaining the hull, main and auxiliary machinery, electrical and automatic plants of a vessel must be done with the rules in place at the date of its construction. Some types of vessels, such as passenger ships, may also have to be specified for classification by a recognised organisation, such as a Classification Society.

Safe maintenance standards for inland waterway vessels

There are codes, best practice guides and standards you need to be aware of in order to safely maintain inland waterway vessels. These are relevant for designers, builders, surveyors, vessel operators, certifying authorities and users of inland waterway vessels. You also need to consider technical requirements, contained in merchant shipping notices and regulations. The following documents address standards of construction and equipment for inland waterway vessels. You can:

For non-passenger vessels such as freight vessels, tug boats and workboats, you should refer to the following information. You can:

For vessels that carry no more than 12 passengers and do not go to sea, you can download the Inland Waters Small Passenger Boat Code from the MCA website (PDF, 407KB).

For more information, see the page on the Inland Waters Small Passenger Boat Code in the guide on inland waterways and categorisation of waters.

For information on new inland water passenger ships built from April 2010, download MSN 1823 Safety Code for Passenger Ships Operating Solely in UK Categorised Waters from the MCA website (PDF, 1.67MB).

You should also contact your local MCA Marine Office for information about newbuild passenger ships. Find contact details for your local UK Marine Office on the MCA website.

Pleasure vessels

Pleasure vessels are those vessels that are used by their owner for recreational or sporting purposes and are not operated for any financial gain to the owner. If a vessel does not fall under this description, it is not classed as a pleasure vessel and falls under the same rules as commercial vessels.

Pleasure vessels have very few national rules, provided they carry no more than 12 passengers. If they are over 13.7 metres long however, they are known as Class XII vessels and have requirements for life-saving appliances and fire protection.

Download regulations and guidance on pleasure vessels from the MCA website (PDF, 151KB).

Read information on MSN 1676 (M) - the Merchant Shipping (Life Saving Appliances for ships other than ships of Classes III to VI(A)) on the MCA website.

Read information on the Merchant Shipping (Fire Protection: Small Ships) Regulations 1998 on the MCA website

Operational standards for inland waterway vessels

There are codes and best practice guides you may need to be aware of in order to comply with operational standards for your inland waterway vessels. These are relevant for vessel designers, builders, surveyors and operators of inland waterway vessels. You should also consider technical requirements, merchant shipping notices and regulations. The following documents set standards of operational standards for inland waterway vessels.

Read Passenger ship construction Classes III to VI(A) guidance on the MCA website.

Download pleasure vessel guidance from the MCA website (PDF, 151KB)

For information on inland water passenger ships, you can contact your local MCA Marine Office. Find contact details for your local UK Marine Office on the MCA website.

EC directive on technical requirements for inland waterway vessels

There are several European Community (EC) directives and regulations for waterway vessels that you should be aware of when constructing and maintaining inland waterway vessels. These are legally enforceable rules agreed to by the EC member states and implemented by UK regulations. Read EC directives and regulations for waterway vessels on the MCA website.

Directive 2006/87/EC (as amended) establishes the technical requirements for inland waterway vessels, including construction and equipment standards.

The purposes of this directive are to bring into line vessel standards across member states, to improve safety and facilitate free movement and competition. This directive does not affect vessels that operate only on UK inland waters.

Download Merchant Shipping Notice (MSN) 1824 (M) on technical requirements for inland waterways from the MCA website (PDF, 257KB).

For information on EC directives and regulations for inland water passenger ships, you can contact your local MCA Marine Office or call the MCA Headquarters on 023 8032 9100.

Find contact details for your local UK Marine Office on the MCA website.

Further information

MCA Headquarters

023 8032 9100

Download the Code for the Design, Construction and Operation of Hire Boats from the MCA website (PDF, 404KB)

Passenger ship construction Classes III to VI(A) guidance on the MCA website

Download pleasure vessel guidance from the MCA website (PDF, 151KB)

Download MSN 1823 Safety Code for Passenger Ships Operating Solely in UK Categorised Waters from the MCA website (PDF, 1.67MB)

Download MSN 1824 (M) on technical requirements for inland waterways from the MCA website (PDF, 257KB)

Published 17 September 2012
Last updated 13 June 2013 + show all updates
  1. Fixing references to specialist guides
  2. First published.