Newcastle Harbour is a compulsory pilotage port. Pilot transfer at Newcastle is carried out by two methods, either by helicopter (80%) or by pilot cutter (20%). Some vessels are not suitable for helicopter transfer.
Helicopter transfer can be achieved on all vessels except tankers, some container vessels, and vessels where there is not a clear circular area of 20m, or where weather restrains the ability of the helicopter to fly. Due to weather conditions, planned helicopter pilot transfers may change to pilot cutter at any time.
A pilot cutter is used for the remainder of transfers. In this case the pilot climbs the ships ladder up to 9 metres in height.
All vessels engaged in pilot transfer should monitor VHF Channel 06 for instructions from the pilot. It should be noted that any vessel that has defective pilot boarding arrangements will be declined pilotage and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) will be advised of any deficiencies.
Once aboard, the pilot conducts a Master/Pilot information exchange briefing to provide the bridge team with all the necessary information required to conduct a safe pilotage.
The pilot then takes charge of the conduct of the navigation whilst the master retains command of the vessel.
The pilot uses VHF radio to communicate orders to the tugs, which are used to aid the manoeuvre.
All vessel movements are booked by the vessel agent through the Port of Newcastle Operations Pty Ltd Operations Ltd vessel schedulers.
Harbour Master's Directions (Newcastle Ship Handling Guidelines)
Port Authority of New South Wales’ Newcastle Harbour Master has powers under the Marine Safety Act 1998 to direct and control the time and manner in which any vessel may enter or leave Newcastle Harbour. These directions are contained within the Port of Newcastle Ship Handling Guidelines.
In order to ensure the Ship Handling Guidelines are adhered to, pilots and Port Authority employees need to refer to a range of static and dynamic data regarding port conditions, river conditions, promulgated depths and various environmental conditions.
Newcastle Harbour is a working harbour that is shared with recreational craft. Recreational users of the port area need to be particularly aware of the water-side restricted security zones in place near the port facilities and around trading ship movements. These zones are in place to ensure that a safe distance is maintained from shipping operations.
Recreational vessels must not impede the passage of commercial shipping which is constrained to navigating within the shipping channels or swing basins.
View: Ship Handling Guidelines
Harbour Master Instructions are intended as short term instructions to cover an amendment to the Shiphandling Safety Guidelines that will be updated in the next version, or provide instruction on a particular events or operation that affects safe shiphandling or vessel operation in Newcastle.
Notice to Mariners are issued notices by the Harbour Master that are issued to port users and hydogrpahic office due to a concern affecting safe navigation of vessels in the port limits of Newcastle
View: Notice to Mariners
If you have enquiries regarding these guidelines, instructions or notices please contact Port Authority: phone: +61 2 4985 8222