New MCA Code Sets Standard For Modern Workboat Operations – NWA

Thursday 31st January 2019 – The National Workboat Association (NWA), the trade, skills and safety standards association for the workboat industry, is celebrating the launch of Edition 2 of The Workboat Code, a document that will redefine working practices and standards for vessel operators across numerous maritime sectors.


This much-anticipated Code of Practice, published in December 2018 and introduced at the NWA’s AGM in January 2019, has been developed in direct collaboration with workboat operators to better reflect the realities of modern workboat operation.


Workboats – loosely defined as vessels under 200GT and less than 24m in length – represent a fast-growing segment of the UK maritime market, with over 600 boats now registered with the NWA and probably twice this number in operation. This rapid growth has been driven by the emergence of new industries such as offshore wind, alongside rising demand for a diverse range of logistical support applications in the wider maritime sector.


This growth has been accompanied by technical innovation, and the UK workboat fleet now comprises a wide variety of advanced, specialist tonnage, ranging from from tugs to shoalbusters, multicats, pilot vessels, survey vessels and Crew Transfer Vessels (CTVs). Demand has consequently grown for a Code of Practice that reflects this fleet diversity and evolving scope of operation.


The first edition of the Workboat Code, also known as the ‘Brown Code’ was

published in 1998 and, while it played a key role in promoting the initial development of the UK workboat industry, it was not written with the modern UK workboat fleet in mind. NWA members and workboat operators at large, aiming for progressive improvement in safety standards, have been calling for a revised code that builds on lessons learned from the past 20 years of operation.


Edition 2 of the Workboat Code, developed by a working group led by the NWA in close cooperation with the MCA, includes a number of essential revisions to industry best practice.


Along with an improved section on stability for modern designs, and improvements relating to vessels engaged in towing, the revised Code encompasses a number of new considerations. It now considers modern vessel applications such as offshore wind crew and equipment transfer – notably ‘pushing on’ for CTVs – and carriage or transfer of dangerous goods.


These best practice guidelines will validate and confirm the approaches taken by workboat operators working throughout the UK and Europe, setting a standard for safe and effective operations.


Katy Ware, Director of Maritime Safety for the MCA said: “The new Workboat Code has been developed directly with the industry – and it has been highly rewarding to see the level of commitment and enthusiasm UK operators have shown during this time.  We are grateful for the support and assistance of the National Workboat Association during this process and we look forward to working with them in the future.”


Kerrie Forster, Chair of the National Workboat Association Safety Forum said: “The revised Workboat Code is a great improvement in regulation and we would like to thank Jenny Vines and the Vessel Policy Branch at the MCA for their tireless efforts in getting this crucial Code of Practice over the line. The Code will certainly be instrumental in supporting our thriving industry – and we call on all of our members, and the wider sector, to use it to its full potential as we collectively aim to uphold the highest possible standards of operation.”


Mark Ranson, Chief Executive of the NWA added: “When we first took on the task of revising the Workboat Code, we did not perhaps realise what a task we were taking on – but it makes all the hard work worthwhile, to see the revised Code published by the MCA and owners now able to build with confidence for the future.”


To access the full revised Workboat Code, please visit:


2019-01-31 09:00:00.0

New MCA Code Sets Standard For Modern Workboat Operations – NWA