PEC Syllabus

Examinations will be conducted orally in English.

Candidates are encouraged to contact the Harbour Master prior to examination to discuss the procedures and depth of knowledge they will be expected to demonstrate.


Bona fide Masters and First Mates of ships regularly calling at Portsmouth may obtain a Pilotage Exemption Certificate for Portsmouth subject to their being able to satisfy Portsmouth CHA as to their skill, experience, local knowledge, knowledge of English and medical fitness. "Experience" in the pilotage area in this case should be considered as completing a minimum of 12 trips under a pilot or existing PEC holder. For vessels greater than 150 metres LOA this is increased to a minimum of 20 trips, inclusive of an outward and inward trip with a pilot at the start and at the finish of the trips.

Candidates will be asked to detail their experience of navigating in the Portsmouth CHA Area and their ‘hands on’ experience of the vessel(s) for which they are seeking a Pilotage Exemption Certificate. This is to include passages from the CHA district boundary to and from the berth, AND manoeuvring experience on and off the berth.

Candidates will be expected to be able to provide information about navigational equipment and manoeuvring capabilities of their vessels and to put this into the context of their planned navigation within Portsmouth Harbour and its Approaches.

Candidates for Pilotage Exemption Certificates should be able to answer questions on:


(contained in the "Dues, Rates and Charges & Pilotage Arrangements" Handbook)

Details of the Pilotage Directions including:

  1. The area of jurisdiction
  2. Vessels subject to compulsory pilotage
  3. Pilot boarding and landing places
  4. Knowledge of other vessels in the area subject to pilotage by Southampton
  5. Duties of a PEC holder


  1. International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea 1972, as implemented by M.S. Regulations 1996.
  2. IALA Maritime Buoyage System A – knowledge of system and its application.
  3. Relevant Merchant Shipping Notices (MSNs) and Marine Guidance Notes (MGNs).
  4. Dangerous Substances in Harbour Areas Regulations 1987 and their application to the vessel.
  5. Characteristics, limitations and restrictions of other vessels requiring special consideration.


  1. Regulations and Directions for navigation in the Port of Portsmouth.
  2. Dockyard Port of Portsmouth Order 2005 , Regulation of Dockyard Ports Act (1865).
  3. Local Notice to Mariners for the Port and its Approaches. Candidates will be expected to display knowledge of contents and application.Download LNTM's
  4. Working knowledge of Port Emergency Plans and procedures, i.e. SOLFIRE and Commercial Port Emergency Plan.
  5. Communication procedures in the Port and its Approaches.
  6. Fog routine in the Port. General Direction 03/10
  7. Prohibited and restricted areas.
  8. Availability of tugs and their use – including the capability of the various tugs.
  9. Availability of rescue facilities in the area, i.e. lifeboats, helicopters etc, including knowledge of base stations and operating procedures.
  10. The names and features of channels, points, lakes, banks and shoals in the Harbour and it’s Approaches.


A candidate will need to have detailed knowledge of the following:

  1. Courses and distances in the Approaches to Portsmouth and in the Harbour.
  2. Buoy lines and track distances between buoys.
  3. Names and characteristics of navigational marks, buoys, seamarks and their light characteristics, and Fog signals.
  4. The set, rate, mean ranges and duration of the tides.
  5. The tidal regime at the "Warner" Buoy, "OSB", the Harbour Entrance and if greater than 150m LOA at the Nab.
  6. The depths of water in the Harbour and its Approaches including channel and fairway depths, depths at channel buoys and on berths. The relevance of such depths to the vessel for which the Pilotage Certificate is being applied.
  7. Widths of channels and fairways.
  8. Transits leading lights and clearing marks.
  9. Names of wharves, jetties, mooring buoys and landing places.
  10. Traffic movement patterns and critical areas of navigation.
  11. Names of channels, fairways and reference points.
  12. Prominent natural features on the approach to Portsmouth and the Harbour.
  13. Anchorages, their names, positions, limits and usage.
  14. Radar patterns of navigational marks and natural and prominent features.



A Board of three people representing the following interests will normally carry out the examination:

  1. Competent Harbour Authority - usually the Harbour Master.
  2. Queen’s Harbour Master – usually represented by his Deputy.
  3. CHA Pilot– usually Senior Pilot.

Each participant will have time for asking the candidate questions after which the candidate will be asked to leave the examination room whilst the examiners confer and decide if the candidate has reached the required standard for the issue of a Pilotage Exemption Certificate.

If the candidate fails the examination, he will not be eligible to be re-examined until at least one month has elapsed. At any subsequent failure a period of three months will be required before re-examination.


Application for a pilotage exemption certificate should

  1. be made on the prescribed form PSA 300
  2. be accompanied by a current MCA Medical Certificate "ENG1", or equivalent
  3. be accompanied by a certified Semaphore Tower (Harbour Control), visit form PSA 303
  4. include the appropriate fee.

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Last Update: 11/04/2018