Pleasure submarines legally authorized to dive

The Neyk Submarine, a private underwater toy for superyachts

The Préfecture Maritime de Méditerranée has published a decree to regulate the navigation of private submarines. A necessity in the face of legal uncertainty and the multiplication of underwater toys on board yachts.

Official publication

On 25 July 2017, the Préfecture Maritime Méditerranée published Prefectural Order No. 223/2017 regulating the navigation of private submarine vessels in the French inland and territorial waters of the Mediterranean. This text, signed by Vice-Admiral Charles-Henri of the Faverie du Ché, clarifies the administrative framework regulating the use of submarines by yachtsmen, who until now were not allowed to dive in territorial waters, despite their strong development as a superyacht accessory.

Respect for the environment and safety

The order specifies several navigation rules aimed at preserving the environment and avoiding any risk of accidents with other sea users:

  • The submarine must not come within 5 metres of the bottom. Any contact with fauna and flora, via tools operated from the submarine, is prohibited.
  • When diving, the submarine has no particular priority over other users, particularly scuba divers. He must respect a safety distance of 10 meters from these divers.
  • The submarine must be accompanied by a surface vessel. Communications between the submarine and the accompanying vessel must be maintained at all times.

Limited dive perimeter

To obtain the derogation from the obligation to navigate on the surface, each yachtsman must make a request to the authorities, who will issue an individual maritime prefect's order specific to each submarine or submersible craft. Each request must specify the purpose of the dive, the period of authorization requested and the diving navigation area among those specified in the appendix to the Order. These are mainly wrecks or sites presenting a particular richness for underwater fauna and flora, located by the red figures in the image below.

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