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We work together to prevent the loss of life at sea and on the coast in the UK. We produce legislation on maritime matters and guidance to help follow maritime rules that govern the water.

Whether at the beach, coast or sea, people rely on our 24-hour emergency service 365-days a year, whilst our Marine Surveyors operate to ensure high standards of safety for all boat users. Our staff understand the significance of their work and its contribution towards our vision to be the best maritime safety organisation in the world.



The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) is an executive agency of the United Kingdom working to prevent the loss of lives at sea and is responsible, through the Secretary of State for Transport (DfT) to Parliament, for implementing British and international maritime law and safety policy. It is also responsible for land based search and rescue helicopter operations from 2015.

Its responsibilities include coordinating search and rescue (SAR) on the coastline and at sea through Her Majesty's Coastguard (HMCG), ensuring that ships meet international and UK safety standards, monitoring and preventing coastal water pollution and testing and issuing Merchant Navy Certificates of Competency (licences) for ships' officers and crew to STCW requirements. The organisation is led by Brian Johnson, the Chief Executive Officer.


The MCA is chiefly responsible for the syllabus and national training standards issued by the Merchant Navy Training Board (based at the UK Chamber of Shipping).

The MCA has three distinct "outward facing" elements - provision of search and rescue and prevention activity through Her Majesty's Coastguard, port and flag state control of shipping through a network of Marine Offices and the development of international standards and MARPOL policy for shipping through the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

The MCA has now established an automatic identification system (AIS) network around the UK coast, for real-time tracking and monitoring of shipping movements from the shore.

MCA is going to make greater use of the technology under the UKSAR2G contract to be awarded in 2024. In particular, it will utilize planes and drones for search and rescue operations.

Its motto is "Safer Lives, Safer Ships, Cleaner Seas".










Brian Johnson


Christopher Rodrigues CBE 

Non-exec Chair

Claire Hughes

Dir., HM Coastguard

Katy Ware

Dir., Maritime Services

Examples of the MCA's work include:

- HM Coastguard responding to more than 33,000 incidents in 2020

- our marine surveyors carrying out more than 2,800 inspections and almost 3,000 surveys on United Kingdom registered ships; and close to 1,500 port state control inspections of foreign registered ships which can lead to around 40 ship detentions each year

- setting standards to protect over 11,000 miles of coastline and being ready to respond to pollution incidents;

- encouraging safe behaviours from over 200 million coastal tourist visits

- promoting and enforcing better safety amongst the 12,000 workers on 5,700 fishing vessels

- facilitate the implementation of trials and projects, support regulation updates and drive forward change in industry in the uptake of innovative technologies in both emission reduction and autonomy


The MCA are responsible for implementation in the United Kingdom of the following major international maritime conventions:

•The International Convention of the High Seas, 1958, article 12
•Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), 1974, and Protocol, 1988
•International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGs), 1972
•Standards of training, certification and watch-keeping for Seafarers 1978 (STCW)
•The International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue, 1979
•Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), 1973, and Protocol, 1978
•Load Lines, 1966, and Protocol of 1988
•Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), 2006
•International Convention on the control of harmful Anti-Fouling Systems on Ships (AFS), 2001




MCA Head office
Spring Place
105 Commercial Road
SO15 1EG, United Kingdom

Main switchboard: 0203 817 2000

UK Ship Register
Customer Services: merchant and bareboat charter registration
Spring Place
105 Commercial Road
SO15 1EG, United Kingdom

Procurement Team
Strategy and Finance
Maritime and Coastguard Agency
Spring Place
105 Commercial Road
Southampton, SO15 1EG


Merchant Ships: 023 8032 9197
Small Ships: +44(0)29 2044 8813
Fishing Vessels: +44(0)29 2044 8855
Pleasure Vessels: +44(0)29 2044 8866











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