‘Cat-water is a good place, where ships ride that are bound to the westward;
Being in, you must haul out a good anchor well over to Mount Batten side;
for want of so doing many ships have drove ashore on Catdown side’
Great Britain’s Coasting Pilot, G. Collins, AD 1693
Located on the south coast of Devon, Plymouth is the largest city on the southwest peninsular and is home to the largest naval base in western Europe. The primary harbour authority is the MoD who operate the port under the 1865 Dockyard Ports Regulation Act and the associated Dockyard Port of Plymouth Order 1999. Three separate statutory harbours (ABP Millbay:Sutton Harbour Authority and Cattewater Harbour Commissioners) operate within the Dockyard Port.
Cattewater Harbour Commissioners exist by Act of Parliament as the navigation and conservancy authority for the Cattewater Harbour as well as civil pilotage authority for the Port of Plymouth.
In broad terms they are required to maintain and order safe navigation for all manner of craft which might present themselves to the harbour by surveying and dredging the channels, maintaining navigation marks and lights, providing pilotage services and traffic regulation within the Cattewater and pilotage services to the remainder of the civil port.
In order to do this they are empowered to charge ship, cargo and pilotage dues to defray their costs and to maintain financial reserves.