Guardians of the Reef

Australian Reef Pilots has been protecting Torres Strait and the Great Barrier Reef for more than 125 years. We are proud to be known as Guardians of the Reef.

ARP’s professional services are unmatched and include Great Barrier Reef relief Masters, port pilots in Australia and New Zealand, towage specialists, marine surveys, provision of charts, voyage management, launch operation and hire.

The company owns and or operates a modern fleet of six pilot launches and five land-on helicopters as well as pilothouses at Mackay, Cairns and Thursday and Yorke Islands in Torres Strait.

ARP’s comprehensive and innovative environmental and safety management systems are accredited under ISO International and 9001:2015 standards.

The company’s dedication to safety is unparalleled and includes a world-class fatigue management system to reduce the risk of pilot error.


ARP routinely offers eco-speed passage planning to reduce fuel use and carbon emissions and ensure that clients benefit from the most direct, safe and economical outcome. For example, we recommend ships take the more direct Great Barrier Reef Inner Route to reduce fuel burn and allow easy access to safe anchorages and emergency response.

As part of its commitment to protecting Australian’s marine environment, ARP offers technical inspection of ships before departure from their last port for Australia to report on any risky or dangerous deficiencies that could lead to detention at Australian ports.


Our Pilots

ARP has the most experienced and professional group of Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) licensed pilots. The group works to consistent procedures under the company Safety Management System (SMS). 

All ARP pilots hold current licences issued by the Regulator, AMSA, and are all former shipmasters or naval equivalents. The company is committed to exceeding AMSA standards, which has resulted in a safety record that sets the benchmark in the Australian coastal pilotage industry. 

Pilot standards are continually monitored shoreside through our real time VoyageBank tracking system, simulation as well as check/audit voyages carried out on each pilot in each compulsory district on an ongoing basis. Approximately one third of the ARP pilot pool are certified Workplace Assessors and are professionally trained as Check Pilots.READ MORE

RP pilots are employed on a full-time permanent salaried basis as opposed to the casual contract system of employment used by other pilotage providers in the Reef. It is the latter contract system that, citing commercial pressure, was deemed by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau in a 2012 Report as a major contributing factor to safety breaches leading to incidents under that system of pilot utilisation. 

The extensive experience of our numerous “Grand Pilots” -- who have each completed more than 1,000 pilotages through Torres Strait and the Great Barrier Reef -- is utilised for mentoring and training new entrant pilots.READ LESS

10 Reasons Why ARP is Recognised as Guardians of the Reef

ARP has the largest and the most experienced group of licensed coastal pilots servicing Torres Strait and the GBR. One-third of our pilots are qualified as check/training pilots and many have completed more than 1,000 pilotage transits of the GBR.   ARP pilots are employed on a full-time, permanent salaried basis to mitigate against the safety breaches associated with the commercial pressures of casual contract employment. This system also allows better-managed rostering and more strategic pilot allocation.
ARP has the safest record on the Great Barrier Reef.  Of 55,000 Torres Strait transits since compulsory pilotage was introduced in 1991, there have been seven groundings – just one of those ships was under an ARP pilot.   A 24/7 Duty Pilot is based at ARP Brisbane headquarters to monitor transits by remote data feed, provide pre-arrival way points and deep draft advice as well as provide a focal point to respond to technical/navigational queries from customers.
ARP is the recipient of the Australian Industry Group Icon of Industry Award and the IHS Fairplay Safety At Sea Award in recognition of its commitment to safety, professionalism, innovation and customer satisfaction.   Over the past 18 months, ARP has invested around AUD8m in marine pilot transfer equipment (launches and helicopters) and is proud to offer the industry’s most modern fleet of all-weather transfer equipment with full redundancy.
Swire’s deep sea shipping arm, China Navigation, has engaged ARP to train its masters on ships regularly transiting Torres Strait to Darwin via the difficult Dundas and Clarence Straits.   ARP is contracted to assist with planning voyages and provide pilotage for Carnival Cruise ships traversing Papua New Guinea waters including the Louisiade Archipelago.
ARP’s military orientated service is specifically designed for international Navys, taking advantage of six ARP pilots with a professional background in the Royal Australian Navy.   ARP has developed a simulation model of the Prince of Wales Channel, the most complex section of Torres Strait and the Great Barrier Reef, and has access to a model of the rest of the reef via the Smartship Australia maritime training centre.

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