Commercial Vessel Operations

To ensure safe operation, all small commercially operated vessels (vessels of up to 24 metres load line length and carrying no more than 12 passengers) are legally required to comply with the relevant Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) Codes of Practice. Working under an appropriate Code of Practice is useful to the operator, as the Codes pull together an otherwise large amount of MCA regulation into one relatively straight-forward book. Compliance with the MCA Codes of Practice is recognised in many places around the world as providing best practice for safe operations, appropriate vessel standards and safety for crew and passengers.

The Codes of Practice in successful use since the 1990s include:

  • The ‘Yellow Code’: The Code of Practice for the safety of small commercial motor vessels
  • The ‘Blue Code’: The Code of Practice for the safety of small commercial sailing vessels
  • The ‘Red Code’: The Code of Practice for the safety of small vessels in commercial use for sport or pleasure operating from a nominated departure point (NDP)
  • The ‘Brown Code’: Code of practice for the safety of small workboats and pilot boats and is currently under review.  In the meantime the MCA has published an industry technical standard that can be used until the revised regulations come into force.

To ensure your vessel complies with the relevant Code and is fit for certification you’ll need a detailed inspection and report, including:

  • design, structural and stability assessment
  • full, out-of-the water survey covering soundness of the hull, deck, appendages and rig
  • machinery inspection and examination of fuel, gas, electrical and steering installations
  • in-water survey
  • check of safety equipment, including fire prevention and fire-fighting equipment, life-saving appliances e.g. life jackets, life rafts, etc.


If you are operating your vessel commercially, or are considering providing commercial services (e.g. chartering) with your leisure vessel, Blabey Engineering Limited can help you interpret the regulations and find the right MCA Code of Practice to suit your operation.  I have extensive experience in overseeing the design, build and operation of a wide range of vessels in compliance with the Codes, and have – throughout some 18 years – contributed to the work of the MCA and industry groups to devise and update them.

Certification for your vessel must be issued by an MCA approved certification authority.   Alan is appointed by Mecal Ltd as a principal surveyor.

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