Latest news

More route advice for container ships near the Wadden Islands

The Netherlands Coastguard will provide more advice in the event of bad weather for container ships that are near the Wadden Islands. Since October 2019, the Netherlands Coastguard has been warning container ships that are over 300 metres in length. On the basis of the report of the Dutch Safety Board (Ovv) and follow-up studies of the Netherlands Maritime Research Institute (MARIN), from 12 November 2020, container ships from 100 metres in length will also be warned of an increased risk of container loss in certain weather conditions. 

Container ships longer than 200 metres are advised to take the northern route in the case of a wave height of 4.5 metres or higher. If the wave height is actually 4.5 metres or higher, these ships are actively called by the Netherlands Coastguard. The advice for container ships that are between 100 and 200 metres in length is to take necessary measures and/or adopt an alternative course in the case of wave heights in excess of 3.3 metres in order to prevent heavy rolling on the part of the ship and the consequent loss of containers overboard.

Active calling
This advice is sent to ships in a navigational warning if wave heights are actually 3.3 metres or higher on the North Sea. In the case of a wave height in excess of 4.5 metres, container ships that are longer than 200 metres are also actively called. The Netherlands Coastguard calls the ship when it is sailing at the latitude of Texel (‘before the exit’). This is because, at this location, they can choose to take the southern or northern route. This is advice for the captain because the Netherlands Coastguard does not have a mandate to impose traffic instructions. The captain is not obliged to follow this advice.

Container ships between 100 and 200 metres
Possibilities are being explored for actively calling container ships that are between 100 and 200 metres in length. The Netherlands Coastguard currently does not have the capacity to do so. The Netherlands Coastguard is of course alert and also monitors these types of container ships in certain weather conditions.

In the case of a wave height in excess of 4.5 metres, container ships that are longer than 200 metres are also actively called.

Different advice
Container ships that are longer than 200 metres are advised to take the northern route because of the chance of hitting the seabed and the green water effect. The green water effect is a solid mass of water that is forced against containers. This risk is greater for container ships that are longer than 200 metres. For container ships that are shorter than 200 metres, the risk of container loss is virtually the same in the same conditions. Advising a route therefore does not limit the risk of container loss.

Navigational warning
If the wave height is 3.3 metres or higher, the navigational warning below is sent to ships. The wave height, direction and frequency are added to the warning.
Netherlands Coastguard
Navigational warning Nr. 29 031412 UTC NOV
TSS Terschelling - German Bight
Following containervessels are at risk of losing containers and touching the seabed
during heavy sea conditions and high waves from a north to northwest direction:
Containervessels with a length of 100-200m and a waveheight above 3.3m.
Masters have to take appropriate measures and alter course if necessary to avoid
coming transverse to the wave direction.
Containervessels with a length above 200m and a waveheight above 4.5m
are recommended to follow alternative route via TSS East Friesland.

Maritime assistance

Arranging breakdown assistance now boaters’ own responsibility


Per 17 August 2020, it is the boater’s own responsibility to arrange for non-urgent maritime support (breakdown assistance). This concerns situations where there is no immediate danger to lives and/or vessels. Examples include engine trouble and help towing a vessel to harbour. Always notify the Coastguard in the event of danger!

The new procedure is the result of consultations of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management with maritime rescue workers (salvage companies), the Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institution (KNRM) and the Coastguard. An overview of different organisations operating in the different waters is published on Ultimately, the person requesting assistance determines which type of assistance is called in.

From 17 August 2020, it is the boater’s own responsibility to arrange for breakdown assistance.

Similar to roadside assistance

Previously, boaters would contact the Coastguard, who would then automatically call out lifeboats from the Royal Netherlands Lifeboat Institute (KNRM). “You can compare it to the situation on the road,” explains Head of Operations Edwin van der Pol. “If your car breaks down, you call roadside assistance, not the emergency services.”


When the Coastguard receives a call, it follows a verification protocol to determine whether emergency assistance is required. If not, the caller is asked to contact a support provider. If there is any doubt whether the situation is an emergency or not, the KNRM is always called out. “The Coastguard has a control room for emergencies. Boaters themselves are responsible for ensuring that they are properly prepared. And that includes the question: what if there’s a breakdown? Who should I call?” says Van der Pol.

The Coastguard is responsible for coordinating search and rescue operations and emergency assistance.

An emergency after all

Sometimes a request for assistance is initially not urgent, but then circumstances turn it into an emergency. In such cases, the Coastguard must be alerted immediately so that emergency assistance (search and rescue) can be started! 


In some situations, the caller may be unable to contact a support provider. The Coastguard can then inform the support providers, who can in turn contact the caller in order to provide the necessary help. This requires the caller to grant permission for the Coastguard to share information with support providers. The Coastguard has no further role in processing the request for assistance


The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management has tasked the Coastguard with carrying out triage. Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen informed Parliament about this in a letter. In the event of non-urgent assistance, callers will be informed that obtaining assistance is their own responsibility. A list of (commercial) support providers active in Dutch waters is available on the Coastguard website.


Coronavirus and prevention on board ships

In the context of the prevention of infection with the COVID-19 (‘Corona’) virus, the government of The Netherlands and the RIVM has drawn up a number of policies and measures. These are in effect and also applicable to seagoing vessels. The document below adapts these policies and measures for implementation on board ships.

The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has published 'Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Guidance for Ship Operators for the Protection of the Health of Seafarers'.

More about the COVID-19 virus on 

Subscribe to RSS - blogs