The clearance under the A259 swingbridge is 8m minus the tide gauge reading. Vessels considering transiting under the bridge therefore need to measure their air draft to calculate whether they can safely navigate under the bridge.
Fishing vessels, larger cruisers and yachts will probably require the swingbridge to be opened to allow transit.
Masters/Skippers requiring a bridge opening should contact Newhaven Port Control (Callsign Newhaven Radio) on VHF channel 12 or by phone on 01273 612926, preferably 12 hours in advance. The absolute minimum notice required to book a bridge opening is 3 hours.
If a commercial vessel is due to manoeuvre through the bridge on the next high water period, then any other vessel must utilise the bridge times set by the Pilots and advertised on the Port Website at www.newhavenportauthority.co.uk
Bridge times are also advertised at the Bridge Control Hut as soon as they are known or can be obtained by contacting Port Control as above.
If there are no commercial traffic openings, then a single opening can be arranged with Port Control for the next predicted high water time. All vessels will then transit the bridge at the same opening time, abiding by the Collision Regulations, i.e. keeping to the starboard side of the channel.
Once the bridge times are known, Port Control will notify interested parties by email and will telephone the Ambulance and Fire Control Centres in sufficient time. The East Sussex County Council Duty Swingbridge Engineer is also informed and will normally attend daylight openings and be on call for night-time openings in case of technical problems.
The Swingbridge is owned and maintained by East Sussex County Council, but operated by trained NPP staff. This is normally the Duty Port Operations Supervisor/Duty Officer, but there are sufficient other trained staff for contingency purposes. Their callsign is “Bridge Control”.
Bridge Control will be in position at the Bridge Control Hut 10 minutes prior to the scheduled opening time and will be listening on VHF channel 12.
All vessels transiting the bridge are strongly advised to be listening on VHF Channel 12 in case Bridge Control needs to contact them.
Bridge Control will open the bridge at the scheduled time and keep it open for the shortest time possible to allow safe transit. Vessels should be ready to transit at that time. Any vessel not sufficiently closed up to the bridge area and ready to transit may find the bridge will be closed again before they arrive and they will have to rebook a bridge opening for the next high water. This is due to the A259 being a busy road and the longer the bridge remains open, the larger the queued road traffic becomes, causing serious disruption.