A new Admiralty Chart has been published to show the changes made to the approaches into Portsmouth in preparation for the arrival of the Royal Navy’s new Aircraft Carriers.

Issued by the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO) on 2 March 2017, it reflects the characteristics, positions and directional light orientations as well as navigation marks, port entry lights and marker buoys that are now in place.

The Queen’s Harbour Master Portsmouth, Steve Hopper said: ‘The most significant changes include a widening of the approach channel and a change to its route.  The new ‘Castle Pile’ which has been placed between Southsea Castle and the War Memorial, now leads ships into the approach channel.  Southsea Castle light, which has been used by ships for this purpose since being commissioned by the Admiralty in 1828, is no longer an operational lighthouse but very much remains a landmark in the Solent.’

The Admiralty Chart number 2625 shows the latest surveyed depths in and around the Approach Channel, as well as the positions, names, and characteristics for the Channel’s lateral marks, the positions of new port entry lights and re-orientation of the Fort Blockhouse directional light.

It also includes amends to the notes and the new position of the Small Boat Channel which has moved further to the west. The majority of lateral marks have retained their names and have relatively corresponding positions within the new channel as to the old one.

However, Ridge buoy has been moved to between Outer Spit Buoy and Spit Refuge Buoy, and been renamed Spit Elbow.

Further noticeable changes include the appearance of large yellow piles in vicinity of Spit Bank Fort and in the upper harbour. These, among other specific marks, will be used by the Queen Elizabeth Class Carriers when they come in to and depart from the harbour, when specific navigation lights will be switched on; they will ordinarily display anti-collision lights to alert other port users.

Entry and exit of the carriers will have some impact for small craft, including brief closures of the small boat channel and a 250 metre moving exclusion zone around the ship during entry and departure, but wider impact for leisure craft will be minimal.

The new charts are available for purchase now, while some electronic charts are yet to be updated.

Details of the new positions and characteristics of all the affected navigation mark and light changes are published in QHM Portsmouth’s NAVWARN 26/17.