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Sponsor of the 2018 SLSNSW Awards of Excellence, Port Authority of New South Wales is the organisation responsible for managing the state’s commercial ports and harbours. Here’s Sydney Harbour Master Philip Holliday on what it takes to keep ships, people and the marine environment safe in New South Wales.  

What does Port Authority do?

Port Authority manages the navigation, security and operational safety needs of commercial shipping in Sydney Harbour, Port Botany, Port Kembla, Newcastle, Eden and Yamba.

We also manage and operate the port facilities at Glebe Island, White Bay, Eden and Yamba, as well as Sydney’s two cruise facilities, the Overseas Passenger Terminal, at Circular Quay and White Bay Cruise Terminal.

Why is Port Authority sponsoring the 2018 Surf Life Saving NSW Awards of Excellence?

While we may do it in different ways, just like Surf Life Saving NSW, our primary aim is to keep those who wish to enjoy our waters safe from harm. We wanted to show our support and recognition for an organisation that plays such a vital role in our community and for the thousands of surf lifesavers who dedicate their time to keeping people safe.

How does Port Authority keep the ports, ships and shipping safe?

Our teams work to ensure the safe, reliable and efficient movement of cargo and passenger vessels through our ports and harbours. We do this with the expertise of our marine teams who survey the ports, pilot vessels and provide vessel traffic services to assist the large vessels to navigate safely through the channels in and out of port. This work is aided with our network of lighthouses and other navigation aids positioned throughout our ports

We also oversee the safe movement of dangerous goods, such as oil, fuel and chemicals, through the ports to reduce the likelihood of an environmental incident. Another key role is responding to marine incidents in New South Wales such as reports of pollution, fire, oil spills or vessels needing assistance. We’re the lead agency for responses to maritime pollution incidents in coastal waters stretching from Fingal Head, Port Stephens to Gerroa, Seven Mile Beach, south of Port Kembla.

How does your role as Harbour Master help this?

The functions of a Harbour Master are directed towards the management and implementation of appropriate guidelines, regulations and operations for our ports to ensure the safety and security of all vessels operating in the port waters. Port Authority has four Harbour Masters, one for Port Kembla, one for the Port of Eden, one who covers both Newcastle Harbour and the Port of Yamba, and myself, Chief Operating Officer and Harbour Master for Sydney and Port Botany.

These are some of the busiest waterways in the country and my role brings a new challenge every day. There could be operational issues requiring an immediate response, strategic issues requiring careful planning, as well as the day-to-day work of overseeing our marine operations teams working out on the water.

Who guides the ships in and out of our harbours?

Our marine pilots perform this role. Pilots are highly skilled and experienced master mariners with a detailed knowledge of local conditions who help large visiting vessels navigate and berth safely in our ports. The pilots head out to sea on our cutter vessels to meet ships outside of port, board the ship by climbing a rope ladder, then head to the bridge to work with the Captain to deliver a safe passage into and then out of port. In Newcastle it’s a little different as the pilots transfer to the ships by helicopter

It’s vital work as no ship Captain could know the right approach for every port in the world. When you see the size of some of these container and cruise ships, it’s easy to see why there is so much effort placed on making sure they can safely transit through the ports allowing them to deliver the goods and services vital to our local economy.

It’s challenging work — especially when the seas are rough — but each year our pilots and cutter vessel crew perform thousands of transfers, day or night, rain or shine.

Describe what it is like working in this industry?

It’s a great industry to work in — especially if you’ve got a passion for the ocean. Many of our people have been working on the water and in the maritime environment for years and wouldn’t want to do anything else. We not only get the opportunity to work in some fantastic marine locations, the work we do plays a vital role in keeping those locations — and the people and ships that use them — safe from harm. It’s challenging but rewarding work, and just like the ocean, no two days are ever the same.

Find out more about Port Authority of New South Wales


Tuesday 31 July 2018