Guidelines for Moored Attraction Vessels - SSB No.: 06/2016

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RDIMS No .: 11420893
Date ( Y-M-D ): 2016-07-14
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This SHIP SAFETY BULLETIN addresses the safety of vessels the general public may board and visit when moored in a Canadian port. It sets out guidelines for vessel Masters or Authorized Representatives (ARs) to follow, which apply to any attraction vessel (including pleasure craft) that is not permanently moored and are excluding those at an anchorage. Vessels must comply with applicable regulations under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001.

Note: These guidelines do not apply to accommodation vessels.


Attraction vessels are vessels on public display or serve as a platform for a public exhibit. These vessels may operate on an established itinerary, calling on several ports for brief periods of time. They may:

  • have a unique or unusual design;
  • have some historical significance;
  • be restored or constructed as replicas of former vessels; or
  • provide some related maritime interest to the public.

Transport Canada has developed these guidelines to provide an appropriate level of safety for visitors to these vessels.

Since there are risks to safety on moored attraction vessels, particularly on those not certificated to carry passengers, we recommend the vessel’s Master or AR:

  • take all appropriate measures to maintain the safety of visitors at all times; and
  • adopt these guidelines before allowing visitors to board the vessel, regardless of when and how long they will be on board.

For vessels without passenger vessel inspection certificates, such as pleasure craft and cargo vessels, Transport Canada will base the limit on the vessel’s stability criteria. For example, the Master or AR must impose a condition on the number of persons allowed on a top deck.


These guidelines apply to:

  Canadian or non-Canadian vessels that allow visitors to board, regardless of whether they pay or not.

  Any attraction vessel that is not permanently moored, excluding those at an anchorage.

Identification of Hazards

Before allowing visitors on board their vessel, the Master or AR:

  • should take the necessary steps to identify all potential hazards to visitors;
  • must determine which places will be accessible to the public and which places will be restricted to crew members only;
  • should clearly mark any confined spaces; and
  • should establish permitted areas for visitors, clearly marked with appropriate signage and monitored by crew members or guides.

To achieve an appropriate level of safety for visitors, Transport Canada recommend the Master or AR examine the following areas of risk before allowing visitors on board the vessel:

1. Stability

The vessel’s stability criteria must include a condition that allows sufficient leeway for the number of additional passengers on board. The Master or AR must pay special attention to the maximum number of persons on the top deck at one time and take appropriate measures if a restriction is required.

2. Decks, Rails and Stairs

Deck areas, stairs and ladders must not present tripping, slipping and falling hazards to visitors.

When the means for preventing persons from falling overboard or from the top of a poop, bridge or deck house, etc., consists of rails and stanchions, the top of the uppermost rail cannot be less than 1 m above the top of the deck in height. To provide adequate protection for children, the rails cannot be more than 230 mm apart, unless strong netting is provided.

Where bulwarks are fitted, they cannot be less than 1 m high. The freeing ports in all bulwarks must be fitted with grids suitable for protecting persons on board.

The Master or AR may choose to apply the requirements of the Load Line Convention or the Canadian Regulation, if the vessel is not subject to the Convention or the Regulation. This will ensure compliance and help protect the crew and passengers. 

3. Gangways 

To ensure visitors and crew can escape in an emergency, the Master or AR:

  • should ensure the vessel has more than one means of exit and that gangways are suitably sized and located;
  • must be aware of the number of visitors the gangways can evacuate safely;
  • should consider installing two or more gangways, depending on vessel arrangement and size, and the number of visitors allowed on board at the same time;
  • should consider weather conditions and visitor comfort;
  • should inspect any gangway closely before allowing visitors onboard to ensure that it can accommodate the visitors’ load and the dynamic forces resulting from tidal changes and vessel surges; and
  • Establish and mark the maximum number of persons allowed on the gangway at any time.

When using side-mounting brackets, the Master or AR should ensure a redundant means for securing the gangway such as the use of ropes, chains or cables attached to a secure structure or fitting deck, which could support the gangway if the side brackets fail.

Note: Regardless of gangway design and securing arrangements, safety nets should be installed below all gangways.

4. Lighting

Interior lighting in areas visitors may access must be adequate to ensure they do not have to carry portable lighting.

If emergency lights are not installed, guides or crew members on watch during hours of visits should carry suitable portable lighting (for example: Flashlights).

At night, there should be enough exterior lighting to illuminate the weather decks and gangway(s).

5. Electrical Fixtures and Wiring

Electrical installations and equipment should be in good condition, and equipped with protection to prevent fire or electrical shock.

6. Means of Escape From Below Deck Spaces

If visitors are allowed in areas below deck, the Master or AR:

  • should either:
    • ensure at least two means of escape are available; or
    • restrict the number of visitors permitted below decks or in a space below decks at any given time.
  • must ensure that a crew member escorts visitors in areas below deck when it is considered necessary. If below deck areas have no emergency back-up lighting system, these escorts must carry flashlights.

7. Engine Room and Cargo Holds

Before allowing visitors in machinery spaces, the Master or AR must identify hazards and take appropriate measures to ensure visitor safety.

If these areas are too dangerous, the Master or AR must declare them off limits to visitors and require them to be secured during hours of visitation.

8. Fire-Fighting Equipment

The Master or AR must ensure that the quantity and type of fire-fighting equipment aboard the vessel is adequate at all times:

  • Fixed fire-fighting equipment (if fitted) and portable extinguishers must be inspected regularly and have been serviced within the last 12 months.
  • Certificates issued by a professional service provider as evidence of proper servicing must be available on board.
  • Portable extinguishers must be of a marine type.
  • Fire detection and alarm systems, if installed, must be tested to the satisfaction of the Master or AR before visits begin.

Important Note: Visitors must not have access to any space protected by a fixed gas (CO2 or Halon) fire extinguishing system.

The Master or AR must identify hazards and take appropriate measures to prevent hazardous events or damage to the equipment before allowing visitors in areas where fire-fighting equipment is fitted. Any areas too dangerous or inappropriate for visitors must be declared off limits and secured during hours of visitation.

9. Lifesaving Equipment

The vessel must carry at least three lifebuoys, with lines on board, and located so one is always close in case someone falls overboard. The Master or AR must assess if additional lifebuoys are required and add more as necessary. If visits occur at night, one extra lifebuoy fitted with a light must be on board, as well.

If visitors are allowed in areas where lifesaving equipment is fitted, the Master or AR must identify hazards and take appropriate measures to prevent hazardous events or damage to the equipment. Any areas found too dangerous or inappropriate for visitors, must be declared off limits and be secured during hours of visitation.

10. Means for Retrieving Persons from the Water

The Master or AR must ensure that procedures are in place for retrieving persons from the water. Transport Canada recommends the crew conduct a man-overboard drill before visits begin.

11. Mooring Facilities

The Master or AR must:

  • assess the vessel’s mooring location, equipment and arrangement to ensure that it does not create a safety hazard for visitors;
  • consider the location of the vessel in terms of vessel traffic, nearby waterfront facility operations, and accessibility by emergency responders; and
  • evaluate the general condition of the pier or other structure that the vessel is moored to, for the safe transit of visitors and access by emergency vehicles.

12. Public Address System

Vessels allowing visitors below decks must have a public address system or equivalent means to effectively alert the crew and visitors of emergencies and possible evacuation. 

13. Fires and Smoking

Generally, the Master or AR should not permit smoking or cooking using an open flame during visiting hours.

14. Means of Access to the Vessel

The Master or AR must ensure that the area around the gangway(s) is kept clear to make visitor evacuation easier and to allow access for emergency personnel and equipment.

15. Number of Visitors Permitted on Board

The Master or AR must confirm the number of visitors allowed on board at any time, based on:

  • the number of crew members aboard the vessel available to respond to an emergency;
  • the adequacy of escape route(s);
  • the width/number of gangway(s);
  • the stability criteria of the vessel;
  • the ability to evacuate visitors rapidly.

The Master or AR must ensure:

  • crew members in charge of embarkation at the gangway are aware of the maximum number of visitors allowed on board at any given time.
  • there are procedures in place to monitor the number of visitors on board at all times.

16. Emergency Plans

The Master or AR must:

  • develop and adopt an action plan for evacuating visitors in an emergency. Such a plan must include procedures for responding to visitors’ injuries.
  • develop procedures to safely evacuate people with disabilities.
  • ensure a copy of the vessel’s Fire or General Arrangement Plan(s) is available at the gangway to help the local fire department or other emergency responders.

17. Communications

The Master or AR must ensure that the crew members at the gangway and the crew members on board can maintain communication at all times when visitors are on board.

The vessel must also have:

  • Some form of radio or telephone communications available for emergencies, either on board or reasonably available on the pier. Note: Public pay phones do not meet this requirement.
  • A listing of local phone numbers for fire department, police and other emergency services readily available.

18. Manning

Before allowing visitors on board, the Master or AR must determine the number of crew required to monitor the visitors on board, ensure safe visits and adequately respond to emergencies. The number of crew members required on board and on duty while visitors are on board must include, at least:

  1. one person in charge, having authority over the vessel’s operation and crew;
  2. one person stationed in close to each gangway to monitor visitors’ embarkation and disembarkation; and
  3. additional personnel as necessary to escort visitors below deck, to maintain a roving safety/fire patrol and to respond to emergencies.

Contact information
(Please address your questions or concerns to):

Manager National Marine Safety Program – Flag State, Compliance & Enforcement
330 Sparks St., Ottawa, ON, K1A 0N8
  Phone: 613-991-3142

Additional Information


Name of Vessel: ______________________      Vessel’s Flag: ______________________

Official No.: __________________________      Port of Registry: _____________________

Port Visiting: _________________________     Date of Visit: (dd/mmm/yyyy) _______________

Identification of Hazards      
Decks, Rails and Stairs      
Electrical Fixtures and Wiring      
Means of Escape from Below Deck Spaces      
Engine Room and Cargo Holds      
Lifesaving Equipment      
Means for Retrieval of Persons from the Water      
Mooring Facilities      
Public Address System      
Fires and Smoking      
Means of Access to the Vessel      
Number of Visitors Permitted on Board      
Emergency Plans      

Completed by: ___________________________________________________________

Name of responsible person representing the vessel (print name in block letters and then sign)

Title/Position on Board: ___________________________________________________

PLEASE NOTE: Complete this checklist before visits by the general public begin, and present it to any Transport Canada Marine Safety Inspector upon request.


1. Moored Attraction Vessels
2. Guidelines
3. Stakeholders

Questions concerning this Bulletin should be addressed to:

Domestic Vessels Regulatory Oversight
Transport Canada
Marine Safety and Security
Tower C, Place de Ville
330 Sparks Street, 11th Floor
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0N8

Contact us at: or 1-855-859-3123 (Toll Free).

The following document is available for downloading or viewing:
Guidelines for Moored Attraction Vessels - SSB No.: 06/2016 (146  KB )