SOLAS Ch V - Regulations
1. Application
2. Definitions
3. Exemptions & Equivalents
4. Navigation Warnings
5. Meteorological Services & Warnings
6. Ice Patrol Services
7. Search & Rescue Services
8. Life-Saving Signals
9. Hydrographic Services
10. Ship's Routeing
11. Ship Reporting Systems
12. Vessel Traffic Services
13. Aids to Navigation
14. Ships' Manning
15. Bridge Design
16. Maintenance of Equipment
17. Electromagnetic Compatibility
18. Navigational Systems & Voyage Data Recorder
19. Shipborne Navigation Systems
20. Voyage Data Recorders
21. International Code of Signals
22. Navigation Bridge Visibility
23. Pilot Transfer Arrangements
24. Use of Heading/Track Control Systems
25. Electrical Power
26. Steering Gear
27. Charts & Nautical Publications
28. Records of Navigational Activities & Daily Reporting
29. Distress Signals
30. Operational Limitations
31. Danger Messages
32. Information Required in Danger Messages:
33. Distress Situations
34. Safe Navigation
34-1 Master's Discretion
35. Misuse of Distress Signals
Regulation Appendix
A1. Categories of Waters & Classes of Ships
A2. Table of Requirements for Ships
A3. Nautical Charts & Publications
A4. WMO Maritime Services
A5. Routeing Systems
A6. Safe Manning
A7. Equipment Manuals
A8. Performance Standards & Type Approval
A9. Performance Standards for Navigational Equipment
A10. Voyage Data Recorders
A11. Navigation Equipment - New Ships
A12. Navigation Equipment - Existing Ships
A13. Magnetic Compass
A14. Electronic Charts
A15. Radar Reflectors
A16. Radar Equipment
A17. Automatic Identification Systems
A18. Steering Gear, Heading & Track Control Systems
A19. High Speed Craft Code
A20. Inspection & Survey of Navigational Equipment
A21. Pilot Transfer Arrangements
A22. Recording of Navigational Events
A23. Passenger Ship Operational Limitations
A24. Voyage Planning
A25. Guidelines for Voyage Planning
Annex 5 - Use of IMO Adopted Routeing Systems

These Guidance Notes supersede MGN 28, Observance of Traffic Separation Schemes.

1.) Routeing Systems - General

The IMO General Provisions on Ships' Routeing (resolution A.572(14) as amended) contain advice on the use of routeing systems in general as follows:

1.1) Unless stated otherwise, routeing systems are recommended for use by all ships and may be made mandatory for all ships, certain categories of ships or ships carrying certain cargoes, or types and quantities of bunker fuel

1.2) Routeing systems are intended for use by day and by night in all weathers, in ice-free waters or under light ice conditions where no extraordinary manoeuvres or icebreaker assistance are required.

1.3) Bearing in mind the need for adequate under-keel clearance, a decision to use a routeing system must take into account the charted depth, the possibility of changes in the sea-bed since the time of the last survey, and the effects of meteorological and tidal conditions on water depths.

1.4) A ship navigating in or near a traffic separation scheme adopted by IMO shall in particular comply with rule 10 of the 1972 Collision Regulations to minimize the development of risk of collision with another ship. The other rules of the 1972 Collision Regulations apply in all respects, and particularly the rules of part B, sections II and III, if risk of collision with another ship is deemed to exist.

1.5) At junction points where traffic from various directions meets, a true separation of traffic is not really possible, as ships may need to cross routes or change to another route. Ships should therefore navigate with great caution in such areas and be aware that the mere fact that a ship is proceeding along a through-going route gives that ship no special privilege or right of way.

1.6) A deep-water route is primarily intended for use by ships which, because of their draught in relation to the available depth of water in the area concerned, require the use of such a route. Through traffic to which the above consideration does not apply should, as far as practicable, avoid using deep-water routes.

1.7) Precautionary areas should be avoided, if practicable, by passing ships not making use of the associated traffic separation schemes or deep-water routes, or entering or leaving adjacent ports.

1.8) In two-way routes, including two-way deep-water routes, ships should as far as practicable keep to the starboard side.

1.9) Arrows printed on charts in connection with routeing systems merely indicate the general direction of established or recommended traffic flow; ships need not set their courses strictly along the arrows.

1.10) The signal YG, meaning You appear not to be complying with the traffic separation scheme" is provided in the International Code of Signals for appropriate use.

2.) MCA Guidance On Observance Of Traffic Separation Schemes

2.1) Rule 10 of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972, as amended, governs the conduct of all vessels in and near Traffic Separation Schemes. For the text of the Regulations, refer to Merchant Shipping Notice No. M1781


2.2) Rule 10(a) - It is important to note that this Rule only applies to schemes which have been adopted by IMO. In other schemes, local regulations may apply, and these may modify not only Rule 10 but also, in some cases, other Steering and Sailing Rules. Admiralty charts show schemes established by competent national authorities but do not differentiate between IMO adopted schemes and unadopted ones. The charts carry a note to this effect, advising mariners to refer to Annual Notice to Mariners No. 17 which lists all charted schemes and indicates which are IMO-adopted. Changes to ANM No. 17 are promulgated in the weekly editions of Admiralty Notices to Mariners. The charts also have notes referring to the existence of special provisions associated with certain schemes, which may govern their use by certain classes of vessel. Sailing Directions should be consulted for these special provisions. Masters of deep-draught vessels should note that the existence of a scheme does not imply that the traffic lanes have been adequately surveyed. Charted depths and source data diagrams (if available) should be studied when planning a passage where depths are critical (Schemes introduced or amended after April 1989 are only adopted once the IMO is satisfied with the adequacy of hydrographic surveys). Traffic Separation Schemes are usually sited where there is a heavy concentration of shipping. Mariners are therefore reminded of the particular importance of strictly adhering to Rules 5-8, which refer to Lookout, Safe Speed, Risk of Collision, and Action to Avoid Collision. Mariners are also reminded that except where there are special local rules to the contrary, the other Steering and Sailing Rules - those of Section II when vessels are in sight of one another and that of Section III in restricted visibility - apply within a scheme as they do elsewhere at sea. By virtue of using the traffic lane, through vessels do not have any priority over crossing or joining traffic.

Procedure within a Traffic Lane

2.3) Rule 10(b) and (c) - All vessels using a traffic lane must conform to the essential principles of routeing. If they are following the lane they must proceed in the general direction of traffic flow and if they are crossing it they must do so on a heading as nearly as practicable at right angles to that direction. Vessels should normally join or leave a traffic lane at its termination, however they may join or leave from either side of a lane provided they do so at as small an angle as possible to the general direction of traffic flow. The same procedure, with certain exemptions (as stated in Rule 10(k) and (l)), applies to vessels which are within a lane for purposes other than for passage through or across it. For example, vessels engaged in fishing, if they are making way, cannot always maintain a steady course and speed but their general direction of movement must be in accordance with this principle. Any substantial departure from this direction by any vessel is only allowed if it is required by overriding circumstances, such as the need to comply with other Steering and Sailing Rules or because of extreme weather conditions. Particular attention is drawn to the requirement that vessels crossing a traffic lane shall do so on a heading as nearly as practical at right angles to the direction of traffic flow. Such a heading keeps the time a crossing vessel is in the lane to a minimum, irrespective of the tidal stream, and leads to a clear encounter situation with through vessels.

Inshore Zones

2.4) Rule 10(d) - Vessels other than those of less than 20 metres in length, sailing vessels, vessels engaged in fishing, and vessels en route to or from a destination within an Inshore Traffic Zone, should, if it is safe to do so, use the appropriate adjacent traffic lane. It does not preclude traffic under stress of weather from seeking protection of a weather shore within such a zone nor does it impose any specific behaviour on vessels within an inshore zone and traffic heading in any direction may be encountered. Within the context of this Rule, the MCA considers that the density of traffic in a lane is not sufficient reason by itself to justify the use of an inshore zone, nor will the apparent absence of traffic in the inshore zone qualify as a reason for not complying with this Rule.

Anchoring within a Separation Zone

2.5) Rule 10(e) and (g) - The question has arisen as to whether a vessel which needs to anchor because, for example, of an engine breakdown or bad visibility, may do so in a separation zone. The MCA considers that this would be a seamanlike manoeuvre and is allowed for under paragraph (e) (i).

Vessels not using a Scheme

2.6) Rule 10 (h) - The existence of a Scheme does not mean that it is obligatory to use it, if its use appears unsafe due to prevailing conditions or the size or state of the vessel. In such circumstances, the Master should consider an alternative route and avoid the Scheme by as wide a margin as is practicable.

Fishing Vessels

2.7) Rule 10(b), (c), (e) and (i) - Vessels fishing within a Scheme are considered to be using the Scheme and must therefore, when working in a traffic lane, conform to the essential principles laid down in Rules 10(b) and (c) as discussed above. When fishing in a separation zone they may follow any course. The requirement that vessels fishing must not impede through traffic means that they must not operate in such a manner that they, or their gear, seriously restrict the sea room available to other vessels within a lane. Rule 8(f) places further obligations upon fishing vessels with regard to their responsibility not to impede vessels following a traffic lane and this obligation remains in a developing situation where risk of collision is involved. When taking any action they must however take account of the possible manoeuvres of the vessel using the traffic lane, which is not to be impeded.

Sailing Vessels and Small Craft

2.8) Rule 10(j) - Vessels of less than 20 metres in length and sailing vessels shall not impede traffic following a traffic lane and the obligations set out for fishing vessels in paragraph 7 equally apply to them. No specific mention is made in the Rule of a sailing vessel having an auxiliary engine, but the MCA considers that if such a vessel cannot follow the routeing procedures under sail because of light or adverse winds, then she should make use of her engines in order to do so.

Vessels engaged in Safety of Navigation Operations

2.9) Rule 10(k) - Vessels engaged in operations for the safety of navigation of the Scheme eg buoy laying, wreck removing, or hydrographic surveying, if restricted in their ability to manoeuvre, are exempt from the provisions of Rule 10 to the extent necessary to carry out the operation. This exemption does not extend to vessels engaged in other survey activities in a Scheme.

Cable Laying Operations

2.10) Rule 10(l) - Vessels engaged in cable operations, if restricted in their ability to manoeuvre, are exempt from the provisions of Rule 10 to the extent necessary to carry out the operation.

Precautionary Areas

2.11) Many Schemes have precautionary areas associated with them where traffic lanes cross or converge so that proper separation of traffic is not possible. Precautionary areas are not part of a traffic separation scheme and Rule 10 is not generally applicable. Ships should navigate with particular caution within such areas. Precautionary areas should be avoided, if practicable, by ships not making use of the associated Schemes or deep-water routes.

Communicating to vessels not apparently complying with the Regulations

2.12) It is important that any vessel observed in a Scheme, which appears to be navigating otherwise than in accordance with the established principles of such Schemes, is advised of the fact at the time by appropriate means of communication including, if necessary, the two letter signal "YG" specified in 1.10 above.

2.13) The master of any vessel receiving this signal by whatever means should take immediate action to check his course and position and take any further steps which appear to him appropriate in the circumstances.

2.14) Marine Guidance Note MGN 128 - Navigation in the Dover Strait provides specific advice on Navigation in the Dover Strait.


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