The Dover Strait

Sunset off Dover Castle: a freighter steams down the Dover Strait

The Dover Strait is one of the busiest international seaways in the world, regularly used by over 400 commercial vessels daily.  It became the first IMO approved Traffic Separation Scheme in the world in the early seventies and was the first to come under full radar surveillance.  The Channel Navigation Information Service (CNIS), introduced in 1972, provides a 24 hour radio and radar safety service for all shipping in the Dover Strait.  It is jointly operated by the UK and French Administrations from the Dover Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) and CROSS Gris Nez in France.  The Dover Strait is a mandatory reporting area, under regulation, vessels over 300 gross tonnes are required to make report to either Dover MRCC (South West Lane) or CROSS Gris Nez (North East Lane) before proceeding through the service area.

The Dover CNIS system has been refurbished and has introduced the latest radar and Vessel Tracking System (VTS) technology combined with data fusion from other sensors, including Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponders and Very High Frequency Direction Finding (VHFDF).  A comprehensive project in itself, CNIS has been delivered in conjunction with the Integrated Coastguard Communication System(ICCS) and the Information Management System (IMS) to make Dover one of the most advanced Coastal Vessel Traffic Systems in the world.

The functions of CNIS are to keep the Dover Strait TSS under observation, to monitor the flow of traffic and to detect and report vessels which contravene the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972, as amended (COLREGS).  The UK responsibility for operating CNIS is vested in HM Coastguard at Dover MRCC.  The modern technology installed will support the MCA and HM Coastguard in promoting Safety of Life at Sea, enhance Counter Pollution measures and provide improved support for enforcement activity.

Dover MRCC's cliff-top location overlooking the Dover Strait and the Port of Dover is ideal for its CNIS role.