About Kahlenberg UK

Kahlenberg UK Ltd is the European distributor for Kahlenberg Industries, Inc. providing full European support and local stock for Kahlenberg marine and industrial air horns, sound signals, controllers, air compressors and the company's other products.

Please contact us for further assistance at or on +44 (0)1635 35353

Sound signal legal requirements

IMO COLREGs bookWhile countries across Europe will have local laws that apply to ship and boat navigation, there is a common requirement worldwide for all leisure, commercial and military vessels to conform to the IMO International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea. As Steve Austin, Senior Policy Lead at the UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) explains: "The COLREGs apply to all vessels, there is no differentiation between coded and non-coded vessels. Should the whistles prove not to conform then they will need to be modified or changed."

"Whistles should conform to the performance in COLREGs, Appendix III and the appropriate parts of IEC 60945 to EN60945 which deal with the marine operating environment."

All Kahlenberg products meet or exceed these requirements. Many other new and currently installed sound signals are non-compliant and might be breaching maritime law and invalidating insurance cover.

RCD and sound signals

Recreational Craft Directive sound signal statementThe Recreational Craft Directive (RCD) introduced a compulsory set of standards and guidelines for the build of new leisure boats since 6 June 1998. Compliant vessels carry a CE Mark on a mandatory plate. This European legislation applies to most leisure craft that measure between 2.5m-24m.

The RCD subsequently introduced a section regulating sound emissions but these only cover the noise made by the boat and its machinery and have no bearing on sound signalling requirements. Indeed the RCD has no specific requirements for horns, whistles or bells.

Read this explanation which has been offered by Jan Mayerhöfer, Policy Officer for the Recreational Craft Directive at the European Commission. It clarifies that all craft CE-marked under the RCD still have to comply with the IMO ColRegs requirements for marine sound signals.

Download the European Commission statement on the applicable sound signal requirements for the RCD and IMO Colregs here.