Guidelines for Pilot Exemptions – Port of Geraldton

Under the Port Authorities Act of Western Australia 1999, except as otherwise provided by the regulations (Government vessels such as Navy or Border Force; dredging vessels as approved by the Harbour Master), Pilotage is compulsory for all vessels over 35m in length.

All Vessels and Masters are to comply with the relevant state and federal legislation as defined in:

  • Port Authorities Act 1999 (WA)
  • Port Authorities (Consequential Provisions) Act 1999 WA
  • Port Authorities Regulations 2001 WA
  • Shipping and Pilotage Act 1967 WA
  • Navigation Act 2012 Commonwealth

To ensure the safety of port infrastructure and the environment, Mid West Ports has established the following additional guidelines for the issuance of a Pilot Exemption Certificate for suitably qualified Vessels and Masters:

Vessel Criteria

  1. Vessel to comply with Section 16F Shipping and Pilotage Act 1967 as amended, “Certificates valid for only Australian crewed vessels”.
  2. Vessel to be less than 120m LOA and;
  3. Vessel to be less than 7.5m Max draft.
  4. Vessel to be capable of berthing and manoeuvring autonomously without tug vessel assistance and with adequate redundancy in both lateral and transverse thrust capacity for example, twin propulsion units and twin bow thruster.

Note: Any use or requirement for tugs shall require the services of a pilot licensed for Geraldton Port.

Master Criteria

  1. Master shall be suitably certified for the vessel under the Navigation Act 2012.
  2. Master shall have a valid certificate of medical fitness as per Marine Orders part 9.
  3. The Master shall be able to converse fluently in the English language.
  4. Master to comply with Shipping and Pilotage Act 1967 Division 4 part 16 and must be entitled to reside permanently in Australia.
  5. A Masters Pilot Exemption shall be limited to the specific class of ship as described on the certificate issued by MWPA.
  6. The Master shall have completed a minimum number of 10 supervised visits by a licensed Pilot including:
    1. A minimum of 5 in and 5 out during daylight hours and;
    2. An additional minimum of 5 in and 5 out supervised visits by a licensed Pilot in hours of darkness if an exemption for night operations is required.
    3. Demonstrated capability in ship handling in all environmental situations relevant to the vessel and the port. In addition, these environmental conditions shall include a variety of conditions including prevailing winds from the SW, NW and East quadrants up to 30kts.
    4. Environmental limitations may be specified on the Pilot exemption certificate if not all of the environmental conditions are experienced under the supervision of a licensed pilot.
    5. The Master shall satisfactorily demonstrate their capacity to adequately respond to emergency situations including but not limited to; the ability to safely manoeuvre their vessel away from danger in the event of a loss of lateral or transverse thrust capacity of the vessel.
  1. Pilots to endorse the Master. At least two of the supervised visits shall be completed to the satisfaction of two separate independent licensed senior pilots.
  2. The Master shall complete a written examination as prescribed, which may include a blank chart plus written answers.
  3. The Master is to complete an oral examination to the satisfaction of the Harbour Master.

Certificate Process and validity

  1. The exemption certificate shall be valid for a specified period of not more than 12 months before renewal is required;
    1. Provided that a period of 6 months between visits to the port is not exceeded.
    2. If 6 months between visits is exceeded the Pilot exemption Certificate shall be considered void and must be revalidated to the satisfaction of a Senior Pilot and Harbour Master.
  2. If a renewal of the exemption certificate is required at the expiration of a valid Pilot Exemption Certificate, a thorough assessment of the safe operation of the Master and vessel shall be conducted by the Harbour Master before a renewal may be granted, this may include supervised visits witnessed by a Senior Pilot.
  3. The Harbour Master can revoke the Pilotage exemption certificate at any time and require the use of a licensed Pilot on the vessel.
  4. The Master (or associated organisation) shall pay the prescribed fee as set out in the schedule of fees by Mid West Port Authority.
  5. Harbour Master can direct a Pilot Exempt Master to use a licensed Pilot, on a case by case basis as per Port Authorities Regulations 2001 part 31.

Ongoing verification

  1. The Harbour Master or his delegate is entitled to board the Pilot exempt vessel to inspect the vessel, the operation, including vessel records to ensure compliance with these Guidelines are being adhered to. This may include traveling on the vessel to witness the operation.

Operational requirements for vessels under the control of a Pilot Exempt Master

  1. Bridge to be manned at all times whilst underway, berthing or un-berthing, by a minimum personnel manning level of:
    1. Pilot Exempt Master,
    2. OOW,
    3. Helmsman.
  1. The Pilot Exempt Master shall strictly comply with STCW and MLC minimum hours of rest requirements.
  2. Vessels that are under the control of a Pilot exempt Master shall not enter the channel or depart from a berth without notifying Geraldton Port Duty Pilot by either VHF or contact telephone number no less than 45 minutes and no greater than 75 minutes, prior to the commencement of the arrival or departure.
  3. Wind strength forecasts shall not exceed 30kts for the duration of the channel, berth and un-berth operation.

Emergency Situation

  1. The Harbour Master can override the above in the case of any emergency situation where risk of life is apparent.

Reference Documents

Port Authorities Act 1999 (WA)

Port Authorities (Consequential Provisions) Act 1999 WA

Port Authorities Regulations 2001 WA

Shipping and Pilotage Act 1967 WA

Navigation Act 2012 Commonwealth