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How to become a coastal pilot

Become a coastal pilot and contribute to the safety of ships in the Torres Strait and Great Barrier Reef.

The requirements for coastal pilot qualifications are in Marine Order 54 (Coastal pilotage) 2014.

To become a licenced coastal pilot, we must verify your existing qualifications and sea service via a formal assessment.

When it is not clear whether qualifications and/or sea service meet our minimum requirements, you will need to seek a determination by our Manager, Seafarer Certification Services. 

Classes of licences

There are four classes of coastal pilot licence:

A restricted pilot licence means you are authorised to pilot a vessel in the identified pilotage area but cannot pilot:

  • a loaded oil tanker
  • a loaded chemical tanker
  • a loaded gas carrier
  • in a pilotage area other than the Hydrographers Passage
  • a ship that exceeds the draught endorsed on the restricted pilot licence.

The role of a coastal pilot

As a coastal marine pilot, you advise on safe navigation in identified coastal pilotage areas.

You must perform your duties with appropriate skill, care and attention to ensure the safe passage of the vessel being piloted.

In fulfilling these roles, you are considered stewards of the marine environment.

This means that you must:

  • identify and manage risks to avoid a grounding or collision to protect the vessel and marine environment
  • provide detailed passage planning, local knowledge, leadership to the bridge team, and liaise with shore authorities including Reef Vessel Traffic Services
  • provide independent judgement and advice to the vessel's master, who remains in command of the vessel
  • monitor your own personal health and safety including managing fatigue
  • provide mentoring and training to new coastal pilots.

Requirements to obtain a trainee coastal pilot licence

To get a trainee coastal pilot licence, you must fulfill these requirements:

How to apply for a licence

If you meet the requirements specified in Marine Order 54 (Coastal pilotage) 2014 you can apply for a trainee coastal pilot licence.

To apply, you must complete an application for a coastal - trainee, restricted pilot, pilot and check pilot licence/renewal form 1021 and include all supporting documentation based on the type of licence requested.

You must:

If you need to meet immigration requirements, you can seek help from a pilotage provider to provide evidence that permanent employment has been offered.

If you hold a Master’s Certificate of Competency not issued by us, we will need a Certificate of recognition. In general, we consider the successful completion of the Long navigation course as an equivalent RAN qualification. Experience in pilotage, navigation and seamanship could be shown by RAN sea service documentation indicating the ship and rank held.

Details about approved training providers can be found on our training page.

Licensed pilotage providers

Australian Reef Pilots
Email: operations@reefpilots.com.au
Phone: +61 7 3666 4000

Torres Pilots
Email: operations@torrespilots.com.au
Phone: +61 7 3217 9544

Hydro Marine Pilots
Email: amunro@hydropilots.com.au
Phone: +61 7 4945 1600

Related information

Last updated: 8 February 2018
Last reviewed: 8 February 2018