Marine safety issues and actions

Sydney Harbour pilotage requirements

Issue number: MO-2013-003-SI-003
Who it affects: All persons charged with navigating a vessel at sea
Issue owner: Sydney Ports Corporation
Operation affected: Marine: Shipboard operations
Background: Investigation Report 297-MO-2013-003
Date: 12 May 2014

Safety issue description

Calliope was not required to carry a pilot during Sydney Harbour voyages because the yacht was considered to be a recreational vessel, even though the risks it posed to the port were the same as those posed by similarly sized commercially operated vessels.

Proactive Action

Action organisation: Sydney Ports Corporation
Date: 12 May 2014
Action status: Released

The Sydney Ports Corporation has advised that;

The report and its recommendations are welcomed as a constructive input into the effort being made to continually improve safety in Sydney Harbour and elsewhere.

In considering the issue of pilotage for recreational/charter vessels the Harbour Master Sydney has recognised that overseeing and enforcing pilotage regulations based upon the variable functions of a vessel is extremely difficult, whilst the actual risk posed to & by the vessel does not change. In promoting the need for a review of the application of the pilotage regulations the Harbour Master has highlighted the particular details of this incident as part of the review of the NSW Marine Safety Act.

ATSB response:

The ATSB acknowledges Sydney Ports Corporations intention to review the Sydney Harbour pilotage requirements, but considers that further action is required to adequately address this safety issue.


Action organisation: Sydney Ports Corporation
Action number: MO-2013-003-SR-006
Date: 12 May 2014
Action status: Released

The ATSB recommends that Sydney Ports Corporation takes safety action to address the pilotage requirements that apply to privately operated yachts like Calliope.

Current issue status: Not addressed
Status justification:

While no safety action has yet been taken, the Sydney Ports Corporation review of the application of the pilotage regulations has the potential to address this safety issue.

Last update 15 July 2014