Marine sound signals – the law as it applies to you

Kahlenberg UK has been asked by a number of boatowners recently to explain the legalities of marine sound signals. Here are some of the responses we have researched in the past two years.

Must I comply with any regulations?

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.

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 (horns) 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.”

Compliance with the COLREGs is enshrined in the national laws of nearly every country worldwide.

The risks and why you should check

It is estimated that over 90% of all leisure boats currently have non compliant horns and will therefore be breaching maritime law and invalidating insurance cover.

In early 2011, a leading UK insurance company confirmed to Kahlenberg UK that all vessels insured by it must have IMO compliant horns to remain insured. We think many other insurers across Europe are likely to take a similar view.

The simple check is to find the IMO compliant certificate that will have accompanied your existing horn when purchased.

Why Kahlenberg

All Kahlenberg marine horns are IMO compliant, meeting or exceeding IMO COLREG requirements. Kahlenberg uses its own anechoic chamber to test its sound signals and ABS to certify them. All models are constructed to the same high standard for proven reliability.

If in doubt…call Kahlenberg UK for advice on +44 (0) 1635 35353