MCA targets uncoded race yachts
It doesn’t matter if commercial yacht owners don’t want to hear this message and fail to get their yacht coded, enforcement action will be taken, says the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) following the conclusion of legal proceedings against two vessels.
MCA has warned that action will be taken against uncoded commercially operated sailing yachts engaged in racing while agreeing to discontinue prosecution against the owners of two yachts, under the condition both enter into a written agreement to ensure their vessels are coded when engaged in any commercial activity.
The outcome reaffirms the agency’s committed position to ensuring all vessels hold the correct documentation.
‘Small, commercially operated yachts must hold a valid code certificate when being used for any commercial purposes, including racing and training, while vessels must also only operate within the category of water for which they have been authorised,’ says the MCA’s statement. A failure to comply will result in enforcement action with the MCA committed to maintaining the rigorous standards of the UK Flag.
Despite initiatives to address concerns raised in 2019, such as publication of the information leaflet ‘Are you in code mode?’ and officers attending Gran Canaria for the start of the ARC, investigations began into several yachts.
The regulatory compliance investigation team found a number of breaches, resulting in the owners receiving official cautions, paying several thousands of pounds in intervention costs to the MCA, and ensuring their vessels were coded for future commercial use. Other yachts were sold or removed from the UK flag and no longer entitled to be UK registered.
“A misinterpretation of the code concerning yachts engaged in racing had developed. The MCA want to send a clear message and dispel this misinterpretation,” says Mark Flavell, the MCA’s lead investigator.
“Commercially operated vessels, including those engaged in racing, must be coded. This is to ensure commercial vessels are subject of an independent survey and inspection regime. The aim being, as with any scrutiny of commercial operations, is to keep employees and public safe.
“We will not hesitate to take enforcement action against yacht owners who don’t want to hear this message and fail to get their yacht coded.”
This article was edited (3Feb21) to remove the name of the yachts which MCA is no longer pursuing.