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Fairway describes the area in a river and in the sea off the coast that has the water depth required for ships.

Term in German shipping law

The parts of the water surface are referred to as fairways (according to German law) in accordance with the Maritime Shipping Regulations , the Ems Estuary Shipping Regulations and the Inland Waterways Regulations ,

  • which are limited or marked by lateral signs (SeeSchStrO § 2 No. 1) or, if this is not the case,
  • which (especially on inland waterways) are intended for continuous shipping according to local circumstances (SeeSchStrO § 2 No. 1) or are used by continuous shipping (BinSchStrO § 1.01 No. 37).

In addition to the above-mentioned SeeSchStrO and BinSchStrO ordinances, there may be local regulations (e.g. port ordinances) in which certain water areas are declared to be fairways. Characteristics of a fairway are the intended purpose and a corresponding marking with sea markings . The international collision prevention rules (KVR) contain regulations for narrow fairways, but without specifying exactly what narrow fairways are.

By contrast, a fairway is understood to be the area of ​​a fairway for which certain water depths and widths are reserved where possible. Traffic separation areas are not fairways in the sense of the SeeSchStrO .

Classification of the fairway

Decisive for the questions of how a fairway is designated by navigation signs and which (driving) rules apply to it, the traffic law allocation of the shipping route to which the fairway belongs :

In contrast, questions relating to maintenance, expansion and new construction are regulated by the legal-of-path allocation of the waterway to which the fairway belongs . The federal waterways owned by the federal government are divided into

  • Sea waterways and
  • Inland waterways.

Designation of the fairway

According to the above Legal definitions of the fairway are basically marked by navigation signs according to the lateral system (in contrast to the cardinal system for danger points). Such sea marks can e.g. B. be designed as a barrel , beacon , rod or prick . The characteristic of the lateral system (Latin latus = the side ) is that a distinction is made between the starboard side ( starboard , right) and the port side ( port , left) of the fairway. Further details can be found in traffic law:

Maritime roads (.. That is in the field of SeeSchStrO) that applies lateral mark the International Association of Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) region A. According to this system, there is a direction of the buoys (Direction of Bouyage) ; The rule here is that the starboard side of the fairway is on the right and the port side of the fairway on the left when coming from sea (incoming). If a fairway connects two parts of the sea (instead of sea and inland areas), the starboard side of the fairway that is starboard abeam of the ships and which is from the west ("from north (including) through west to south (exclusively)") is considered ) drive into this fairway. However, if the fairway is strongly curved so that the entry can be made from a westerly direction, the entry further north counts as the relevant one (Section 2 (1) (2) SeeSchStrO). In the IALA system (region A) the port side is marked red, the starboard side is marked green (for further details see lateral system ).

Fairway buoy on the Rhine, right side

On inland waterways (i.e. in the area of ​​the BinnenSchStrO), on the other hand, the reference direction (direction of buoying) is usually the direction of flow of the inland water, i.e. from the source (from the mountain) to the mouth (to the valley), whereby the color assignment is reversed; the right side of the fairway (red) is therefore on the starboard side of a ship moving towards the estuary.

Because of this reversal of direction and color, there is no change of side of the colors at the interface between BinSchStrO and SeeSchStrO . On the other hand, at points where fairways branch off from one another or flow into one another, the starboard side of one fairway can simultaneously be the port side of the other fairway (and vice versa); a change of side of the colors can take place here. For such points there are special lateral buoys (green / red / green or red / green / red).

Differentiation of the lateral designation from other side designations

The (fixed) lateral designation of the fairway (StB-fairway side / BB-fairway side) shown above must be conceptually clearly separated from the relative side designation on watercraft: The right side of the vehicle, viewed in the direction of travel, is referred to as starboard (green position lights), the left as Port (red position lights).


  • A vessel in the area of ​​the SeeSchStrO that is sailing out (towards the lake) has the port side (red fairway marking) of the fairway on its starboard side (green position lights).
  • A vehicle in the area of ​​the BinnenSchStrO that is traveling against the direction of flow (uphill) has the left side of the fairway (green fairway marking) on ​​its starboard side (green position lights).

The direction of buoyage in a fairway must also be conceptually separated from the designation of the right / left side of the river, which refers to the direction of flow (see orographic ). While in the area of ​​the BinnenSchStrO, the orographic direction is usually the same as the direction of the tonnage (see above), this is often the other way around in the area of ​​the SeeSchStrO.

Driving rules in fairways (SeeSchStrO)

Only a few specific fairway-related regulations should be mentioned here. Basically, the collision prevention rules (KVR) apply and primarily the sea ​​shipping routes regulations (SeeSchStrO); For details, see the respective text:

  • KVR Rule 9 Narrow Waters , here u. a. Right-hand drive requirement, requirement not to hinder passage through navigation, overtaking
  • SeeSchStrO § 22 Exceptions to the right-hand drive requirement
  • SeeSchStrO § 23 overtaking , § 24 meeting
  • SeeSchStrO § 25 Right of way for shipping in the fairway (de facto the most important fairway-related § of the SeeSchStrO)
  • SeeSchStrO § 32 Anchoring (ban on anchoring in the fairway)

Driving rules in fairways (BinnenSchStrO)

Maintenance, expansion and construction of fairways (Germany)

In principle, the owner of the waterway or - if different - the person whose administration the waterway is subordinate to is responsible for maintenance.

These tasks include: B.

  • ongoing monitoring of the condition of the waterway (fairway, fairway, shipping facilities, banks and, if applicable, bank properties),
  • informing shipping about the condition and warning of dangers ( notices for seafarers BfS),
  • the maintenance of the waterway in a condition necessary for shipping ( current police ) including
  • the preservation of the fairway depth and width by dredging as well as
  • setting and operating sea marks.

The majority of the navigable waterways in Germany belong to the federal waterways owned by the federal government and administered by their own authorities . The waterways and shipping authorities are responsible for their maintenance (as well as expansion and new construction) . In addition, there are a few federal waterways whose management has been delegated (e.g. the area of the Port of Hamburg ), as well as state waters that are maintained by the respective owner or administrative body in accordance with state law.

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Fahrwasser  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. See Duden, Fahrwasser accessed on December 7, 2015. The alternative meaning in the sense of “ wake ” is not taken into account in the following.
  2. ^ Johannes Klein (arrangement): Herder-Lexikon Geographie. Freiburg 10th edition 1990, p. 73.
  3. Friedrich Kluge: Seemannsssprache , 1911, new print Meisenheim / Glan 1973, p. 238 f.
  4. Grimm's German Dictionary , Vol. 3, 1862, ND 1984, Sp. 1266.
  5. Directorate-General for Waterways and Shipping Shipping Department: Specific questions at sea. ELWIS, accessed on July 16, 2018 .