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Marine Safety Management System


The Port of London Authority (PLA), as a Statutory Harbour Authority, has a primary responsibility to facilitate the safety of navigation and associated marine operations on the tidal Thames.

The Port Marine Safety Code (PMSC) requires the PLA to maintain a dedicated Marine Safety Management System (SMS), for marine operations, within the port. The Marine SMS must be based on a formal risk assessment of these operations.

Formal Risk Assessment

The PLA undertook a comprehensive risk assessment of marine operations throughout the port following the introduction of the PMSC. That risk assessment is kept under constant review and adapted as circumstance, changing trades and experience dictate. A dedicated hazard management system hosts the identified hazards to navigation and the supporting risk control measures, that mitigate those hazards.

Maintenance of the Marine SMS

It must be appreciated that risk assessment is a dynamic and continuing process. The initial risk assessment therefore, provided the starting position from which the port's Marine SMS continues to evolve and change to the operational requirements of the port and tidal River. The system will naturally evolve as each of the hazards identified in the initial assessment is re-assessed, either routinely, or for example, following an incident which raises a doubt as to the effectiveness of a risk control measure. The scheduled review process is based on a four-year cycle with the individual ranked hazards being reviewed periodically, dependent upon their perceived level of risk. New hazards are also be identified and assessed and included within the SMS as traffic patterns and trades change within the port.

The PLA initially confirmed its compliance with the requirements of the Port Marine Safety Code, to Government, in February 2002, and has reconfirmed that compliance every three years as required by the Maritime & Coastguard Agency; the last time being in March 2015.

Marine SMS Manual

A high level overview of the structure and function of the PLA’s Marine SMS, in the form of a Marine SMS Manual has been published following widespread consultation with port and river users. The Manual (PDF file) can be viewed by clicking on the link provided on this page.
Should you have any questions or comments on the PLA’s Marine SMS please address these to [email protected].

Marine Safety Polices

The PLA has developed and maintains a Policy for Managing the Safety of Navigation which is supported by a number of associated Policies. These policies can be found in the Marine Safety Management System Manual linked above.

Designated Person

The Port Marine Safety Code (PMSC) requires all port authorities to appoint a Designated Person to provide assurance to the Board that they comply fully with the requirements of the Code and to conduct audits to ensure the highest levels of navigational safety are maintained. 

The PLA Board has appointed Captain Martin Phipps of ABPmer as Designated Person.  He reports directly to the PLA Board twice a year, providing assurance on our compliance with the Code.  


Contact details: 

Captain Martin Phipps 

Designated Person


Quayside Suite, Medina Chambers, Town Quay, Southampton, SO14 2AQ

Tel: 023 8071 1840

email: [email protected]


Updated: October 2022