Seaman's Handbook

PART B. Steering and Sailing Rules : Traffic Separation Schemes

(a) This rule applies to traffic separation schemes adopted by the organisation and does not relieve any vessel of her obligation under any other Rule:(b) A vessel using a traffic separation scheme shall:
  1. proceed in the appropriate traffic lane in the general direction of traffic flow for that
    lane;
  2. so far as practicable keep clear of a traffic separation line or separation zone;
  3. Normally join or leave a traffic lane at the termination of the lane, but when joining or
    leaving from either side shall do so at as small an angle to the general direction of traffic
    flow as practicable.
(c) A vessel shall, so far as practicable, avoid crossing traffic lanes but if obliged to do so shall cross on a heading as nearly as practicable at right angles to the general direction of traffic flow.(d)
  1. Inshore traffic zones shall not normally be used by through traffic which can safely use
    the appropriate traffic lane within the adjacent traffic separation scheme. However,
    vessels of less than 20m in length, sailing vessels and vessels engaged in fishing may
    under all circumstances use inshore traffic zones;
  2. Notwithstanding subparagraph (d) (i), a vessel may use an inshore traffic zone when
    en route to or from a port, offshore installation or structure, pilot station or any other place
    situated within the inshore traffic zone, or to avoid immediate danger.
(e) A vessel other than a crossing vessel or a vessel joining or leaving a lane shall not
normally enter a separation zone or cross a separation line except:
  1. In cases of emergency to avoid immediate danger;
  2. to engage in fishing within the separation zone.
(f) A vessel navigating in areas near the terminations of traffic separation schemes shall do so with particular caution.(g) A vessel shall as far as practicable avoid anchoring in a traffic separation scheme or in areas near its terminations.(h) A vessel not using a traffic separation scheme shall avoid it by as wide a margin as practicable.(i) A vessel engaged in fishing shall not impede the passage of any vessel following a traffic lane.(j) A vessel of less than 20m in length or a sailing vessel shall not impede the safe passage of a power-driven vessel following a traffic lane.(k) A vessel restricted in her ability to manoeuvre when engaged in an operation for the maintenance of safety of navigation in a traffic separation scheme is exempted from complying with this rule to the extent necessary to carry out the operation.(l) A vessel restricted in her ability to manoeuvre when engaged in an operation for the laying, servicing or picking up of a submarine cable, within a traffic separation scheme, is exempted from complying with this Rule to the extent necessary to carry out the operation.