Marine navigation

We are responsible for providing navigational systems and services to facilitate the safe and efficient navigation of ships within Australian waters.

Marine navigation

Marine navigation is planning, managing and directing a vessel's voyage. The practice of marine navigation involves:

  • good seamanship
  • professional knowledge and judgement
  • the application of science and technology.

We deal with the safety of navigation in Australian waters by continually reviewing the effectiveness of current safety, navigation and management measures, and identifying additional or enhanced measures that may be needed in the future. Our long term plan, Navigation services in Australian Waters (2010 - 2025), identifies our top five priorities for navigational services and the principles we will use to deliver those priorities.

Navigation services

We deliver a range of navigational services for the commercial shipping industry.

These services provide ships with the ability to navigate safely around Australia’s coastline and to and from its ports. Services include:

  • a network of some 500 visual and electronic aids to navigation
  • ship routeing systems
  • ship reporting systems
  • an Under Keel Clearance Management (UKCM) system

The provision of navigational services is funded from the Marine Navigation Levy, a charge levied on the commercial levy-paying shipping industry. 


E-navigation is an International Maritime Organization (IMO) led initiative that aims to harmonise marine navigation systems and provide information in electronic formats to a ship’s bridge team. It also aims to streamline the way maritime authorities, agencies and other stakeholders gather and exchange navigation-related information. 

Globally harmonised maritime information services will be an integral part of e-navigation, which will contribute to enhancing the safety and efficiency of shipping.

Australia has been active in three areas that are integral to the future of e-navigation:

  • Human Centred Design (HCD) of navigation equipment
  • Development of IMO guidance on the standardisation of functions and display of navigation equipment (aka 'S-Mode')
  • Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) services.  

Based on collaborative international efforts led by Australia, IMO approved a Guideline on Software Quality Assurance and Human Centres Design for e-navigation in 2015. We have also produced an information video which introduces the guideline.

IMO is progressing several e-navigation outputs. The International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) is progressing the shore aspects of e-navigation. We will continue to contribute to these international endeavours.

Last updated: 6 August 2020