BG Verkehr / Dienststelle Schiffssicherheit
Referat Schiffbau
Brandstwiete 1
20457 Hamburg


Alexander Dierichs
Phone: +49 40 361 37-244
Fax: +49 40 361 37-204
Mail: schiffbau@bg-verkehr.de

Detlef Rathke
Phone: +49 40 361 37-232
Fax: +49 40 361 37-204
Mail: schiffbau@bg-verkehr.de

Small craft · Special vessels

Small craft

Special vessel

Small craft

Definition of small craft

A small craft is a cargo ship with a gross tonnage of up to 100 and a vessel length of up to 8 m, according to the German Ship Safety Ordinance ("Schiffssicherheitsverordnung").

Note:

According to the Schiffsbesetzungsverordnung (amendment of 23 June 2021), as merchant ships, commecially-used small craft require a Minimum Safe Manning Certificate, regardless of their length - this includes those with a ship's length of less than 8 m as well. Please apply with this application form. Additionally, a Ship Safety Certificate is required with a ship's length of 8 m and more.

Small craft used non-commercially for sport and recreational purposes are excluded from the application of the safety requirements for cargo ships and the load line requirements, according to the German "Schiffssicherheitsverodnung" (Ship Safety Ordninance - Annex 1a, Part 6, Chapter 1, Reg. 1.2.5 and Annex 1a, Part 7, Reg. 1.2.4). These craft do not require neither a Ship Safety Certificate nor a Minimum Safe Manning Certificate. 

Note:

Currently, the German Flag State Administration does not use the text of these two regulations in the version of 3 March 2020 for reasons of European legal requirements. The Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV) is considering how formal requirements of European law and ensuring ship safety can be met. For now, the Ship Safety Ordinance will be applied as prior to the amendments (non-commercial "for sport and recreational purposes") with regard to these two regulations.

Only if the sole intended purpose of the non-commercially used small craft is the ship-related sporting  or recreational activity of the persons on board, a Ship Safety Certificate is not required. 

Only the operator, i.e. the owner or the person responsible for the operation, as well as the skipper are responsible for the safety of small craft that are not required to be issued safety certificates. The German Flag State Administration recommends to use the same standards of safety assessment as for craft that do require a certificate. It is possible to apply voluntarily for a ship safety certificate as well.

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Safety requirements

The safety requirements for small craft are regulated in the German Ship Safety Ordinance Annex 1a, in particular in

The safety requirements of Chapter 2 of Part 6 only apply if Chapter 3 does not stipulate something else.

Surveys and ship certificates

Surveyors of the Ship Safety Division of BG Verkehr conduct the required surveys for small craft. The Ship Safety Division also issues the certificates for small craft. Please submit the application to the Ship Safety Division – the easiest way is via e-mail to besichtigungen@bg-verkehr.de.

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bild sonder- und kleinfahrzeuge 

Special vessels

Definition of special vessel

According to the German Ship Safety Ordinance ("Schiffssicherheitsverordnung"), a special vessel is a cargo ship with a gross tonnage in excess of 100 used for a particular purpose. Special vessels are divided up into 5 different categories:

  • tugboat: a cargo ship which is built and designed to haul and push water craft, floating tools and other floating equipment;
  • authority vessel: a cargo ship which is used for official and not commercial purposes, in particular a service vessel within the meaning of section 3c) of the German Flag Act;
  • water craft with no independent propulsion: a cargo ship which is built so as to be hauled or pushed by other craft, in particular barges or pontoons;
  • floating tool: a cargo ship built in such a way that it can only accommodate a specific tool and which does not have any other means of loading, in particular dredgers, floating cranes, pile drivers, hoisting devices as well as drilling, jack-up and production platforms;
  • jack-up vessel: a cargo ship which is built and designed to transport and erect structures at sea;

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Safety requirements

The safety requirements for special vessels are stipulated in the German Ship Safety Ordinance (Schiffssicherheitsverordnung) as long as they do not fall under the provisions of the international SOLAS Convention. In the Ship Safety Ordinance, the requirements are regulated in Annex 1a, in particular in

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Survey and ship certificates

Ship Safety Certificates

Surveyors of the Ship Safety Division of BG Verkehr conduct the required surveys for special vessels. The Ship Safety Division also issues the certificates for special vessels. Please submit the application to the Ship Safety Division for this – the easiest way is via e-mail to: besichtigungen@bg-verkehr.de.

Ship Safety Radio Certificate & Load Line Certificate

Aside from a Ship Safety Certificate, craft also require a Ship Safety Radio Certificate and a Load Line Certificate. Craft with a freeboard length of less than 18 m are not issued a Load Line Certificate. In these cases, the freeboard is recorded in the Ship Safety Certificate (Ship Safety Ordinance, Annex 1a Part 7 Reg. 8.5).

Minimum Safe Manning Certificate

Merchant ships flying the German flag require a Minimum Safe Manning Certificate - regardless of their length, thus this includes craft with a length of 8 m and less.

Ships are to be manned in accordance with their Minimum Safe Manning Certificate. The requirements with regard to the required certificates of proficiency and competency must be considered in particular.

A ship with less than 100 GT and a propulsion power of up to 300 kW operating in national trade and up to six nautical miles away from the German coast as well as with a maximum of 12 passengers on board requires at least the certification as a master for national trade 100 GT (Kapitän nationale Fahrt BRZ 100 (NK 100)), according to the amendment of the German "Seafarers' Competencies and Proficiencies Regulations" (Amendment of 28 July 2022).

The holder of a Certificate of Competency as a Skipper (NSF) as well as the holder of a "Sportküstenschifferschein" who have proof of a Medical Fitness Certificate for service on deck as well as a Restricted Operator's Certificate count as competent for a transitional period ending on 31 December 2023. 

The Minimum Safe Manning Certificate can be applied for at the Ship Safety Division. Please send the completed application form to posteingang.schiffssicherheit@bg-verkehr.de and certificates@bg-verkehr.de.

Please note that the crew must have valid medical fitness certificates.

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