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Incident reporting

Life-threatening emergencies on the river:
Call 999 and ask for the Coastguard

For near miss, safety observations and incident reporting click below


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Multi-coloured Buoys and Lighthouse at Denton Wharf

Marine Services

Providing essential support to river users

The PLA’s dedicated Marine Services team provides essential support to commercial and leisure users of the river.

Diving, salvage, mooring maintenance, underwater inspections, wharf services, boat lifting, load-out services, storage, driftwood and rubbish clearance, aids to navigation and pollution response: all of these, and more, are the responsibility of the PLA’s Marine Services team, along the 95-mile stretch of the river Thames.

Marine Services crews maintain more than 60 aids to navigation, including buoys, and inspecting/maintaining more than 230 PLA moorings along the river. The divers work on this and are also regularly called out to clear fouled propellers and inspect dock gates.

Marine House, a purpose-built operational support facility at Denton Wharf, near Gravesend, provides the base for Marine Services. Here the PLA’s fleet of nearly 40 vessels is maintained; a 70-tonne capacity boat lift is kept busy with these and also with vessels being lifted in and out of the water for other operators and owners.

The PLA has invested more than £10 million in Denton Wharf over the last ten years, including the jetty development, construction of Marine House and progressive strengthening of the quay to allow larger lifts to be handled.

Work undertaken by the Marine Service team at Denton includes an RNLI pontoon which was lifted out of the water, hydroblasted and refurbished at Denton. The facility has also been frequently called into service in support of new port developments such as London Gateway, storing, handling and loading out materials and equipment. Divers based at Denton worked with salvage teams to carry out a large amount of wreck clearance for the London Gateway channel dredging.

And then there are the high-profile, one-off events to support, such as laying temporary moorings for the University Boat Race and New Year's Eve fireworks.

Lift-out facilities, plant and equipment hire

  • Craneage - Cranes are available to hire, including one of 70 tonnes capacity.
  • Hire of barges - Barges are available for hire under standard barecon terms.
  • Hire of anchors, wires etc. - Chains, anchors, shackles, buoys and wires are available to hire from Marine Services at Denton Wharf.
  • Shotblasting and spray painting - Facilities are available at Denton Wharf to shot-blast, refurbish and spray paint steel buoys and other small steel structures. Quotations for this type of work are available from the Marine Services office.
  • Boat lift - A 70-tonne boat lift is available for commercial use. This is used extensively for both PLA and commercial vessels. Recent commercial work included the lift of twelve 30 metre-long pontoons weighing up to 17 tonnes and destined for a marina development upriver.

The Port of London Authority offers services for vessel operators on the tidal River Thames.

Contact us to enquire about these services.

Diving and salvage

The Port of London Authority employs commercially-qualified divers who are in demand for many different tasks.

Our dive team can assist in:

  • clearing fouled propellers
  • maintaining tide gauges
  • inspecting lock gates, sluices and flood barriers
  • carrying out damage inspections of vessels
  • searching for lost propellers
  • helping to remove old jetty structures
  • slinging yachts ready for loading on to ships
  • and inspecting the underwater sections of piers.
PLA Diver Ryan Pierce entering the water
Thames Oil Spill Clearance Association vessel at Denton Wharf


We manage the Thames Oil Spill Clearance Association (TOSCA), which provides a 24-hour response to oil spills between Tower Bridge and Canvey Island.

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Navigational aids

The Marine Services team provides and maintains permanent aids to navigation, including floating buoys, fixed buoys and central London bridge lights.

The team is also responsible for installing and maintaining any temporary buoys to mark obstructions, and for the maintenance of tide gauges located at strategic points along the River.

All buoys have been converted from conventional incandescent lamps to light emitting diodes (LEDs). This has led to reduced costs, increased safety and a more environmentally friendly operation.

The LED lamps give a brighter and clearer light, which is easier for mariners to see. Requiring much less maintenance, they are more reliable - usually lasting for about ten years, whereas conventional lamps need to be replaced twice a year.

Navigational buoys at Denton
River scene trees water sky

Drying out facilities

We operate two services in the upper district: Kew Grid and Isleworth Drawdock.

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Visitor moorings

A list of short-term locations for leisure boat users

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Boats moored along the tidal Thames
sun bridge river photo by pilot david barnett

Thames Vision 2050

We will create the UK’s leading port, central to the nation’s economy, with Net Zero emissions

A clean river, free of pollution and rubbish, supporting more sport, passengers and freight. A resilient Estuary, adapting to climate change and richer in wildlife. A more diverse Thames, providing jobs, learning and enjoyment to the whole community, and always, everyone, staying safe.

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