The Strait of Dover, separating southern England from France, is probably the world's busiest shipping lane.
The Strait of Dover, separating southern England from France, is probably the world's busiest shipping lane. On average 300 ships a day pass through this narrow channel, while scores more ferries and coasters cross directly between England and France. The dangers of this congested seaway were tragically emphasised last winter when three ships sank after collision on the Varne Bank.
To avoid similar disasters this winter, a new style watch is being kept on Channel shipping. It combines radar and helicopter patrols. The object of the round-the-clock watch is to identify ships which defy the recommended shipping lanes. At present, ships steaming up the Channel are supposed to hold to the French coast; ships heading towards the Atlantic are supposed to keep to the English side. But an alarming average of 15 ships a day risk imminent destruction by sailing against the prevalent shipping flow.
Under the new coastguard watch, offending ships will be reported to their flag states. B.B.C. camera crew filmed the surveillance system as it came into operation on Monday (October 4).