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Harbour Masters

Our navigational safety team is headed by our Chief Harbour Master who has overall responsible for defining and enforcing the regulations needed to support and manage the safety of navigation on the 95 miles of the tidal River Thames.  Given the extensive length of river we cover, and the very diverse uses it is home to, day to day management of the river is overseen by two district Harbour Masters who cover the river between Teddington Lock and Crossness (around Dagenham) and Crossness and the outer estuary, respectively.  To find out more about the Chief Harbour Master’s team, click on the links below.

Chief Harbour Master - Bob Baker

The PLA's Harbour Masters oversee navigational safety on the River. The Chief Harbour Master has overall responsibility for navigational safety on the tidal Thames. Working for him are a group of Harbour Masters and deputy Harbour Masters, all of whom are experienced mariners. To better handle the different activities on the River, they are divided into two teams:


Harbour Master Lower - Cathryn Spain

Cathryn is the Harbour Master for the Lower District, covering the area between Crossness (Dagenham) to the outer port limits. Cathryn and her team are also responsible for Port Security and Emergency Planning.

For more information about work of the Harbour Master Lower Team click here. 


Harbour Master Upper - Mark Towens

Mark was promoted to Harbour Master (Upper), after serving the last two years as Deputy Harbour Master (Upper). He joined the PLA as an apprentice in 1999 and has worked as a Marine Surveyor in the PLA’s Vessel Licensing department, before moving into the Harbour Master’s department; initially as Deputy Harbour Master (Safety Management System), and latterly deputy Harbour Master (Upper) in 2012. Mark was made a Freeman of the Company of Watermen & Lightermen in 2004. 

For information the responsibilities of the Upper District Team click here.


Harbour Master Thames Tideway Tunnel - Terry Lawrence

Terry and his team look after the major infrastructure project that is Thames Tideway Tunnel, which involves numerous construction sites in the river. As a dedicated and professionally qualified mariner, Terry is well versed in marine operations to provide full-time expertise that is demanded by the complex project.






Harbour Master (SMS & VTS) - Simon Phillips

Simon leads the VTS Department and is responsible for the strategic development of the department’s policy and procedural management as well as national/international liaison activities. Simon also retains strategic management of the PLA’s IALA and MCA accredited training organisation. Simon is also responsible the maintenance of the port’s Marine Safety Management System (SMS).

To find out more about London VTS please click here

To find out more about the work of the SMS Team - please click here