Stay Safe Around Ships

Moreton Bay Marine Park is beautiful place to enjoy being out on the water, and we do all that we can to make the area safe for everyone.

Recreational skippers should be aware that between 10 and 30 ships can be transiting the Bay area on any given day. If your smaller craft travels too close to these larger ships, it can pose life-threatening risks to those on board. It can also lead to the grounding of the larger vessel and also major damage or pollution.

Recreational skippers operating a vessel in the vicinity of large ships must have a solid understanding of how to safely navigate.

  • All recreational craft must keep well clear of shipping in the Pilot Boarding Ground off Mooloolaba. This position is marked on nautical charts and Maritime Safety Queensland’s, Beacon to Beacon charts, and is where the pilot embarks and disembarks large commercial ships visiting the Port of Brisbane.
  • Whenever possible recreational craft should keep well clear of shipping channels. Large ships must stay strictly within the confines of the shipping channels and cannot go around you. They approach silently and can be travelling at speeds up to 20 knots, covering a distance of nearly 2 kilometres in around 3 minutes. Smaller craft have very limited time to haul anchor, start the engine and move out of a large ship’s path.
  • Check your nautical chart to plan a safer passage by minimising exposure to large ships. In most areas where ships are operating, the depth of water well outside the channel is safe for smaller craft. Always check if there is a safer passage.
  • Increase vigilance when approaching the Port area and transiting the Brisbane River. In these areas, the margins for large ships to manoeuvre reduce even further. The speed of a large ship will be reduced putting them at the mercy of wind and tide. Ships will also be manoeuvring off berths and in swing basins often with the assistance of tugs and line launches. All need to operate unimpeded for operations to occur safely.

Never assume a ship’s crew or pilot has seen you. Observing small vessels from a large ship is often very difficult, particularly at night. Radar is not a reliable means of detecting small vessels.


  • Did You Know?

    Container ships will typically have a blind area directly ahead for 500m to 1km and can travel at over 20 knots.

  • Did You Know?

    Large ships must stay within the carefully surveyed channels, plan your passage to avoid these areas.

  • Did You Know?

    The longest ship to visit Brisbane to date is the 345m passenger ship RMS Queen Mary 2.

  • Did You Know?

    Even if a ship is put full astern it still may take a couple of miles to stop.

Ten simple steps to help you stay safe around ships


  1. Know where ships operate (see Shipping Route Chart), and never anchor in these areas
  2. Know what ships are likely to be moving (see QShips)
  3. Plan your passage to avoid areas where large ships operate (see Beacon to Beacon charts)
  4. Understand the basic limitations of large ships
  5. Always maintain a proper lookout for large ships and act to get well clear very early. Don’t forget to check astern
  6. It is the responsibility of small vessels to keep clear of large ships in the Bay and Port area
  7. Make sure you can be seen. At night, make sure your navigation lights are on, bright and unobstructed. Never assume the ship’s pilot or crew has seen you
  8. Monitor VHF channel 12 if transiting ship operational areas in the Port of Brisbane
  9. If you hear 5 short blasts, it is likely the pilot or crew has imminent safety concerns. Take immediate action to get well clear
  10. Be very careful in areas where ships are manoeuvring off berths. Wash from ship propellers, thrusters and tugs can create a sudden danger to small craft. Tugs can suddenly change direction and can move in all directions

Brisbane Marine Pilots appreciates the assistance of all water users in keeping our Bay a safe and enjoyable place to visit.

AIS Vessel Positions


About Us

Our Story

Brisbane Marine Pilots core business is to train and supply Marine Pilots to assist ships visiting the Port of Brisbane and provide a common safety system under which all Pilots work within the Port.

Our bay & our community

Our bay and its wildlife

The Moreton Bay Marine Park is formed by three large island’s Stradbroke and Moreton Islands’ to the East and Bribie Island to the North West.

Our Bay & Our Community

Our Community

Brisbane Marine Pilots recognise the importance of corporate social responsibility and work to engage positively in the wider port and local community.

port information

Seafarer Welfare

Brisbane Marine Pilots is committed to making the lives of seafarers a little easier. All of our Pilots have served many years at sea and in our daily work we often see the very difficult working and living conditions seafarers face.

Weather and Tides

The following information is provided to assist boaters accessing weather data relevant to the Brisbane Bar, the Sunshine Coast, and the Gold Coast Seaway.

QLD Marine Weather Warnings


Sunrise

Sunset

Weather Forecasts*


About Us

Our Story

Brisbane Marine Pilots core business is to train and supply Marine Pilots to assist ships visiting the Port of Brisbane and provide a common safety system under which all Pilots work within the Port.

Our bay & our community

Our bay and its wildlife

The Moreton Bay Marine Park is formed by three large island’s Stradbroke and Moreton Islands’ to the East and Bribie Island to the North West.

Our Bay & Our Community

Our Community

Brisbane Marine Pilots recognise the importance of corporate social responsibility and work to engage positively in the wider port and local community.

port information

Seafarer Welfare

Brisbane Marine Pilots is committed to making the lives of seafarers a little easier. All of our Pilots have served many years at sea and in our daily work we often see the very difficult working and living conditions seafarers face.

What is a marine pilot?

Marine Pilots are arguably the most vital members of the maritime industry when it comes to safety.

Marine pilots are employed throughout the world to facilitate the safe and efficient movement of large ships in congested, confined and/or environmentally sensitive waters. Marine pilots in Australia who hold a Master Class 1 Certificate of Competency issued by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority can command a ship of any size, anywhere in the world. It typically takes 15 years of study, practical experience and examinations to achieve this qualification. To then achieve a pilot license, pilots continue to undertake additional specialist training appropriate to the area they operate in.

Brisbane is one of the busiest ports in Australia

Our pilots have an acute awareness of the risks associated with the movement of large ships in confined waters. Working within highly restricted operational limits, our pilots must perform under very small margins:

  • Vessels up to 275m long regularly transit the 120m-wide channel in the Brisbane River up to Hamilton
  • Ships can make this transit with only 60cm under the keel
  • Ships up to 350m long and with drafts over 14m regularly transit the area across the Bay and into the Port

As ships continue to get larger, so do the associated risks. These risks must be continually assessed and managed. In Brisbane, our pilots operate in accordance with common and clearly defined procedures to provide the best possible safety and efficiency outcomes. This unique set of systems is vital to the protection of the Bay and the critical infrastructure of the Port.

Marine Pilotage is funded by ship owners and operators at no cost to the taxpayer.

"There are few members of the shipping industry who are so vital to safety as pilots…..Pilots are at the apex of the professionals in the maritime industry when it comes to navigational skills, knowledge, experience and ship handling."

Secretary General, International Maritime Organisation

  • 24/7

    24 hours per day 365 days per year Pilots receive their assignments via our electronic dispatch systems.

  • Preparation Is Key

    Preparation begins with the Pilot assessing and preparing a plan in accordance with our Safety Systems. This is done with by using a state of the art information exchange system that ensures all Pilots have the latest information.

  • On Time, Every Time

    The Pilot is transferred to the vessel on time, every time and boards by climbing a rope ladder up the ships side.

  • First Contact

    On the bridge the Pilot meets with the Ship’s Captain and bridge team to explain the plan so all have an agreed mental model of the intended passage and manoeuvre.

  • Ship Handover

    The Pilot takes the ‘con’ and is effectively given full control of the vessel. The Pilot is monitored by the bridge team and Ship’s Captain at all times.

  • Navigation Begins

    The Pilot navigates the vessel across the Bay and into the Port in constant communication with the bridge team, other pilots and vessel traffic services.

  • Mooring the Vessel

    The Pilot manoeuvres the vessel all the way to the berth, giving direct instructions to bridge team, tugs, line launches, linesmen etc. The pilot uses technology, visual cues and receives feedback from other sources to complete the task safely.

  • Assignment Completed

    The Pilot hands the ‘con’ back to the Ship’s Captain after a de-brief and handover process. The Pilot then plans for their next assignment.

In Brisbane our Pilots operate in accordance with common and clearly defined procedures, providing the best possible safety and efficiency outcomes. This unique set of systems is vital to the protection of the Bay and the critical infrastructure of the Port.

About Us

Our Story

Brisbane Marine Pilots core business is to train and supply Marine Pilots to assist ships visiting the Port of Brisbane and provide a common safety system under which all Pilots work within the Port.

Our bay & our community

Our bay and its wildlife

The Moreton Bay Marine Park is formed by three large island’s Stradbroke and Moreton Islands’ to the East and Bribie Island to the North West.

Our Bay & Our Community

Our Community

Brisbane Marine Pilots recognise the importance of corporate social responsibility and work to engage positively in the wider port and local community.

port information

Seafarer Welfare

Brisbane Marine Pilots is committed to making the lives of seafarers a little easier. All of our Pilots have served many years at sea and in our daily work we often see the very difficult working and living conditions seafarers face.