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Harbour Master

11 May 2021
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Every year 28,000 sea-going ships and 90,000 inland vessels call at the port of Rotterdam. The Harbour Master of the port of Rotterdam is responsible for the safe, smooth, sustainable and secure handling of shipping in the port of Rotterdam.

Harbour Master’s Division

The Harbour Master contributes to boosting the competitive position of the port of Rotterdam by handling shipping as efficiently as possible. To that aim he cooperates with pilots, towing services, boatmen, terminals and other partners in the port. The Harbour Master is involved in many innovative solutions to increase the added value of the port for our clients.

René de Vries is the Harbour Master of the port of Rotterdam. He manages the Harbour Master’s Division, a part of the Port of Rotterdam Authority. The Harbour Master’s Division supervises order and safety in the port of Rotterdam 24 hours a day. The division performs a number of public-law tasks to that aim. The powers have been transferred to the Harbour Master by the central government and the municipalities of Rotterdam, Schiedam, Vlaardingen, Dordrecht, Zwijndrecht and Papendrecht.

Nationality: Dutch

Appointed: 01-03-2010

Additional positions:

  • Chairman Local Committee KNRM (Hoek van Holland)
  • Member of the Supervisory Board of the Maritime Museum Rotterdam
  • Member of the Supervisory Board of Erfgoedhavens

Tasks Harbour Master's Division

  • Harbour Coordination Centre: the Harbour Coordination Centre controls planning and access of vessels.
  • Vessel traffic service operators: from two traffic control centres the traffic service operators monitor all vessels which enter and leave the port of Rotterdam or travel through it. The operators can track the vessels on their radars and maintain contact with them.
  • Harbour patrol boats: the patrol boats, RPA vessels, are responsible for inspection and enforcement on the water. If necessary the patrol boats guide vessels physically and assist vessels in the event of incidents.
  • Inspection: inspectors from the Harbour Master’s Division check whether vessels comply with the shipping regulations concerning environment and safety. In the event of incorrect or unsafe actions, measures are taken. In addition, systematic checks are carried out to make sure shipping companies and agents comply with the statutory administrative reporting obligations. In accordance with the Harbour Master’s Covenant, the Harbour Master has set standards for the Safety Environmental Index (SEI).
  • Port Health Authority: the Harbour Master is a member of the Port Health Authority. In the event of epidemics on board, the Port Health Authority advises and guides vessels.
  • Port Security: the Harbour Master is responsible for Port Security.

Emergency services

The Harbour Master is responsible for Port Security and participates in the Port Health Authority, which supervises and advises vessels in the event of epidemics on board. The Harbour Master thus ensures that the level of safety in the port of Rotterdam, despite the increasing shipping and complexity, remains at the right level and is leading for other ports.

Safe port

Ensuring safe shipping is crucial for a world-class port and forms an important task of the Harbour Master. Safety in the port is not only highly important for shipping, but also for the people who live and work in and around the port. Safety always has first priority and is the responsibility of all parties concerned.

Secure port

The port of Rotterdam is known as one of the safest ports in the world. A large port and industrial area such as the port of Rotterdam cannot do without extensive safety measures. The Harbour Master has been appointed Port Security Officer. He ensures compliance with the Port Security Act by performing inspections and testing and certifying safety plans of onshore businesses. The Harbour Master fulfils this role optimally through intensive national and international consultation, and by working together closely with maritime service providers, inspection services and other authorities. Resilience against cyber-attacks is essential for the port of Rotterdam. For this reason, (National) Harbour Master René de Vries was recently appointed as Port Cyber Resilience Officer (Port CRO), working on behalf of the police, Deltalinqs, the Municipality of Rotterdam and the Port of Rotterdam Authority.

Leader in efficiency

An efficient port is an attractive port for existing and new customers, which is why the Harbour Master wants to be a ‘Leader in efficiency’. This means keeping the risk of delays to shipping to a minimum. This needs the contribution of all parties in the maritime chain. To make the port of Rotterdam the most efficient port, the Harbour Master, maritime partners and customers work together to improve information exchange between all parties and coordinate shipping schedules better.