We run one-day seminars for DUTY HOLDERS, DESIGNATED PERSONS, PORT DIRECTORS, NOMINATED COUNCILLORS and other Senior Port Officers. We bring this course to individual or groups of ports around the country and are also planning a series of such courses in each of the UKHMA's Regions, according to demand.  Please contact us for further information or to book a place on your nearest course.

Our regular three-day Harbour Masters PMSC & NOS courses take place in Southampton in February, June and October and feature lectures, discussion and practical exercises, as well as participation by the MCA, the MAIB, the MMO, legal experts from London, environmental specialists from the UK's leading port operators and from security advisers.

The Legislation Tree, National Occupational Standards

The Port Marine Safety Code and Environmental Issues

This is a 3-day workshop-based course for Harbour Masters and all those involved in any way in port marine operations. More than 380 harbourmasters, dockmasters, QHMs, VTSOs, senior port officers etc from around 100 ports, terminals and establishments have attended 44 courses since 2008. Feedback includes such comments as:

"Best course I have been on in 5 years with this company"       

"A really beneficial course delivered by a really knowledgeable team"  

"Brilliant course. As a newly appointed HM, I took away a lot to think about and a lot of industry contacts"

"Well organised course with excellent quality of lecturers and guest speakers" 

"Should be mandatory for anyone embarking on UKHMA Course"

    Our courses are normally held at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton and will take place as below:        

The fee for courses starting in 2024 is  £1,375 + VAT 

2024 Course dates: 6th to 8th February, 4th to 6th June and 1st to 3rd October


The course programme is outlined below, but for further information or to book places, please contact Peter Bingham    at IDG Maritime Ltd:, Tel 01797 229000, Mobile 07785 313297.

We would like to hold some courses on a more UK-wide geographic basis and request any organisation that might be       interested in hosting a course to contact us.

Origin of the Course:

The concept of the course originated from strategic planning with Associated British Ports, where Managers recognised the requirement to benchmark best practice and to identify the ways in which the Ports Industry can ensure that its needs for qualified marine personnel can be met.

The Legislation Tree, rooted in the 1847 Act, breaks the Port Authority's and Harbour Master's powers and duties into manageable proportions.

Aims:  To instill or refresh Delegates' knowledge and understanding of the UK maritime legislative environment and its practical day-to-day application, as well as their statutory duties & roles as integral parts of the port management team.

Objectives:  To continue the Professional Development of Harbour Masters, their deputies and assistants, pilots and VTSOs, as well as other relevant marine professionals, Designated Persons, Duty Holders, Port Managers and Board members, with particular reference to:

  • Relevant key legislation – duties and powers under the Port Marine Safety Code;
  • Compliance with the Port Marine Safety Code and its Guide to Good Practice;
  • The development of National Occupational Standards by government and the UKHMA;
  • Port safety management systems;
  • Accident prevention and investigation;
  • The environmental framework;
  • Port safety and emergency planning;
  • Marine operations, Conservancy;
  • Commercial considerations and drivers.

To establish common competency requirements for the marine departments and identify future training needs.

To test the interface between commercial and marine professional decision-making, culminating in a tabletop exercise.

Structure of the Course:

The course is designed as a facilitated exchange of knowledge and experience. IDG and its course lecturers work with external speakers, including representatives from MCA, MMO and MAIB, to help the participants identify, agree and own 'Best Practice' - a best practice that enables ports and harbours to meet the PMSC’s criteria for continuous improvement.

A table-top exercise on Day 3 allows participants to test and consolidate their knowledge.

The Port Marine Safety Code, its Guide to Good Practice, its associated Safety Management System and the National Occupational Standards for Harbour Masters are essential elements of the safe and efficient operation of every British port. This is not just a matter for the Harbour Master and the Marine Department but for every member of the Port Authority whose duties and responsibilities arise from The 1847 Act. The course aims therefore to instill or refresh and update knowledge and understanding of the UK maritime legislative environment and its practical application within the port environment.

Some specific objectives are:

  • To provide practical Continuous Professional Development centred around marine operations as an integral part of the port management team;
  • To explore the interaction of safety and commercial pressure when making risk assessments within the port’s Safety Management System;
  • To consider the education and training requirements of the next generation of Harbour M
  • asters; and
  • To exchange experience and knowledge.

The course was developed by IDG Maritime in association with ABP, who continue to support the course by providing input into sustainable port development and operations. Specialist input is also provided by lawyers Hill Dickinson as well as by contributions from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB). The courses are normally held at the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton’s Eastern Docks. They are recommended as residential because the interaction between harbour masters, marine personnel and port managers out of the more formal lecture room atmosphere forms an important part of the overall course.

The 3-day Course Workshop is divided into five sessions:

Session A: This addresses port-related law in a new and innovative way, based around the Legislation Tree shown above. Starting with the 1847 Act, the development of port and marine legislation is explored and the way in which law is made is explained, from Acts of Parliament to Harbour Byelaws. The importance of a port’s relationship with its stakeholders is explained and the main duties and responsibilities of a Harbour Master are identified.

Session B: This is the heart of the course, where the PMSC and its Guide are introduced and discussed, with particular reference to Safety Management Systems. This session includes a presentation by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), and its approach to ensuring continuous improvement is explained. Major considerations for Harbour Masters are their qualifications and training to a suitable national standard as required by the PMSC. This session introduces the PMSC concept and the National Occupational Standards which have been developed by the Government and the UK Harbour Masters Association. A competence matrix accompanies the course work-book.

Session C: Powers of Direction, both General and Special, are explained, and their origin and development traced from the 1847 Act to a port’s own ‘Special Act’. The Port Authority’s and the Harbour Master’s specific powers, duties and responsibilities are identified. The Marine Accident Investigation Branch explains the approach it takes to accident investigations, using current examples of incidents in UK ports, and relates this to the ways in which risk assessments are undertaken within a port’s SMS.

Session D: Environmental law has grown at a bewildering speed and this session addresses this aspect of a port’s responsibilities and duties from a practical and pragmatic standpoint. The session also covers the port’s interface with local and national emergency plans and the emergency services, and explains the relationship between the Health and Safety Executive, the MCA and the MAIB. The MMO and a port environmentalist describe their interactive roles.

Session E: Three branches of the Legislation Tree are discussed in this session. Conservancy, including dredging, aids to navigation and hydrographic surveys are covered, again in a pragmatic and practical way. Then the session takes a look at the port as a commercial operation (a commercial undertaking as envisaged by the 1847 Act). The work-shop discusses how commercial pressures can be balanced with safety requirements within the port’s Safety Management System and explores how risk assessment can assist this process. The various branches of the Legislation Tree are then brought together in the section on Port Operations, which concludes with a short SMS exercise.

Session F: Our maritime ‘legal eagle’ gives his views on arrest, detention and on limitation of liability, and gives practical advice on accident investigation and on taking evidence. The central event of Session F (Day 3) is a table-top exercise. This ‘Bad Hair Day’ for the Harbour Master involves the whole port management team as well as some of the port’s external stakeholders. Finally we return to the Competencies Matrix to see if the course has changed any of its views on the importance and priorities of the competencies set out in the PMSC Guide.