Harbour Master

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Harbour master is one career in the maritime industry which requires great skills and experience. The name defining it all, a harbour master is entrusted with the responsibility to oversee the proceedings of a port or a harbour.

Technically, a port master can be for both naval harbours as well as general commercial marine ports. However, the basics of this maritime job remain the same while the only change occurs in the authority under which the port master functions. In case of the former the navy is the authority concerned while in case of the latter, it is the port owners and the management committee.

Harbour Master means a person appointed by the Minister to exercise the functions detailed in marine legislation. The general powers of the Harbour Master are described under section 88 of the MarineSafety Act 1998. They enforce regulations and industry codes of practice in a particular port, harbour or marina in order to ensure the safety of vessel navigation, the security of the harbour, the protection of the marine environment, and the safe operation of the port facilities. Future Growth Strong

Harbour Masters are found in the maritime sector in ports, harbours and marinas of varying size, from a major gateway for international trade to a single jetty jutting out into a river or sea. A port is a location on the coast that can be used to load and unload cargo; a harbour is a place on the coast where vessels may seek shelter; a marina is a port for leisure craft. Ports are used for a variety of purposes including recreation, commercial trade and defence. Employers range from private, trust, the state and local authorities.

Sydney Harbour
World-famous Sydney Harbour is one of the busiest waterways in Australia.
(Source: Port Authority NSW)


The broad purpose of the occupation is to enforce regulations and industry codes of practice in a particular port, harbour or marina in order to ensure the safety of vessel navigation, the security of the harbour, the protection of the marine environment, and the safe operation of the port facilities. The Harbour Master is responsible to ensure that the port complies with the Port Marine Safety Code, for the safety of navigation within the harbour jurisdiction and to the State for marine governance. In their daily work, an employee in this occupation interacts with ship masters, enforcement officers, stakeholders, tenants, members of the public, agents, customers, marine pilots as well as port operations and commercial staff.

Harbour Masters are empowered by statute to issue Directions and Notices to Mariners to ensure the safety of all harbour users, to review, implement and enforce policy applicable to the area of jurisdiction. They investigate marine accidents and incidents and can make recommendations in order to improve safety.

An employee in this occupation will be responsible for running a port through powers and responsibilities granted by statute. The Harbour Master has the power to permit vessels to enter or leave the port, as well as overseeing vessel traffic movement in the port approach and in the port area. More generally, Harbour Masters oversee the planning and execution of port marine operations such as designating where vessels should lie within the harbour, vessel traffic management services, the provision of pilotage services, conservancy and any other marine-related operation. They work in close cooperation with commercial partners to ensure the maximum utilisation of port facilities as well as co-ordinating and managing responses to port incidents and emergency situations.

ANZSCO ID: 139999

Alternative names: Harbourmaster, Habor Master, Port Master,

Specialisations:

  • A Deputy Harbour Master will be empowered with the full authority of the Harbour Master when deputising in the absence of the Harbour Master
      
  • An Assistant Harbour Master will have areas of responsibility defined by the Harbour Master and report directly to the Deputy Harbour Master or Harbour Master

 

Knowledge, skills and attributes   

In order to embark upon the maritime career of a port master, one has to primarily have the necessary working experience as a seafarer. Since the role is of a managerial nature, the port master has to reconcile both the operational and the managerial aspects of the domain quite effectively. Right from logistics of operations to even the most minute security requirements, the master of the harbour is required to carry it all with aplomb.

The job of a harbour master comes with great responsibilities. Anyone taking up this job should be ready for the following:

  • Interesting job role with newer challenges
  • Wider scope of responsibilities
  • Learning new technologies and adapting to the constantly changing maritime world
  • Dealing with emergency situations
  • Showcasing great leadership qualities
  • Willing to work in a team
  • Display motivational qualities
  • Time and planning management skills to ensure the punctual running of vessels
Did You Know?

News July 2018: New Harbour Master for Newcastle & Yamba

Jeanine Drummond
Harbour Master Newcastle
Jeanine Drummond, appointed to lead marine operations as Harbour Master for Newcastle Harbour and Port of Yamba


Jeanine Drummond, Port Authority’s current Deputy Harbour Master and General Manager, Operations for Port Jackson and Port Botany in Sydney has been appointed to lead marine operations as Harbour Master for Newcastle Harbour and Port of Yamba.

Reporting to Emma Fensom, Port Authority’s Chief Operating Officer, Newcastle and Yamba, Jeanine will begin her role as Harbour Master for Newcastle in August 2018.

Jeanine began her maritime career twenty-three-years ago at the Australian Maritime College, University of Tasmania, A Master Mariner and a Bachelor of Business Maritime Management, Mrs Drummond brings a wealth of maritime industry experience to the role.

Prior to joining Port Authority as Manager, Port Services in 2016, Mrs Drummond worked in a wide range of maritime roles with Caltex, Hirarc Australia and Svitzer Australia. She has also held roles from Junior Deck Officer to Master for companies such as ASP, BP, Woodside and Teekay.

Jeanine is also vice chair of the International Association of Ports and Harbours Women’s Forum, a member of the Women in Shipping and Transport Association (WISTA) and the Nautical Institute, and promotes the work of Connecting Women in Maritime to encourage more diversity in the maritime industry.

Jeanine’s appointment follows the news that Newcastle and Yamba’s current Harbour Master, Peter Dwyer, will retire after seven years in the role.

Peter Dwyer
Peter Dwyer
(Source: ABC News)

The role of Harbour Master is an official position appointed under the Marine Safety Act 1998 (NSW) that has the power to direct and control the movement, entry and exit of vessels within port areas to ensure the safety of shipping and the port environment. (Source: Port Authority NSW)
 

Duties and Tasks

As a
Harbour Master, you would:

  • Ensuring the safe and efficient operation of all marine activity at the Port
  • Responsibility for the planning, managing and optimising of the Port’s marine operations
  • Managing the Port’s pilotage services
  • Ensuring compliance with government regulations
  • Conducting formal vessel inspections covering safety equipment and general quality presentation passenger/crew areas and facilities
  • Compiling reports and providing advice to management regarding shipboard activities

 

Working conditions

The occupation is found both in office-based environments as well as outside in all weathers and may be conducted both on and off the water. Harbour Masters hold ultimate decision-making responsibility at all times, day or night, but may delegate authority to their deputies and/or assistants. In their daily work, an employee in this occupation leads a team of marine employees who may deputise or assist in undertaking the responsibilities of managing the harbour with delegated duties in the absence of the Harbour Master.

   
Education and training/entrance requirements

Progression through the deck-officer ranks (a combination of study and sea-time). Several years’ experience as a master on a commercial vessel is generally recommended in order to have sufficient experience to be able to manage a port’s operation

 

 

Did You Know?

Excerpt taken directly from Celebrating 160 years (2020) of the Port of Eden's Harbour Masters

Paul Webster - Harbour Master, Port of Eden NSW - CAMEO

Education:
Advanced Diploma, Nautical Knowledge 1990 - 1993, Australian Maritime College Launceston Tasmania



Paul Webster Harbour Master Port of Eden
Image: Paul Webster, Port Authority’s harbour master and marine pilot for Port of Eden

History of Port of Eden's Habour Masters

Not just one of NSW’s most picturesque ports, the Port of Eden is a logistical lifeline for the local economy that’s been kept safe by a 160 year-long lineage of harbour masters. Here’s Eden’s current harbour master on providing a safe harbour for ships today.

Halfway between Sydney and Melbourne, the Port of Eden is the southernmost deep-water harbour in NSW, two strategic advantages that have assured the port’s place as the economic gateway for the South Coast region.


Port of Eden
Image: the picturesque Port of Eden on the NSW South Coast

From its early use as a base for commercial whaling, the Port of Eden now supports the region’s timber industry, one of the largest fishing fleets in NSW, a growing number of cruise visits, as well as the Royal Australian Navy.

Over 100 large commercial vessels visit the port each year and it’s the Eden Harbour Master who ensures these ships can safely navigate in and out of port – a role that’s continued for 160 years.



Q & A
with the Eden Harbour Master


What was your journey to becoming a harbour master?

Paul: I first went to sea at 17, working on a private yacht. Two years later I received a cadetship which took me to the Australian Maritime College to study for my Master Class 1 Certificate.

I then worked my way up on, mostly Australian, cargo ships until becoming Master on a chemical tanker but in 2008, I accepted a position as Deputy Harbour Master/Marine Pilot in the Port of Esperance and became Eden’s Harbour Master in 2011.

What are the responsibilities of the Eden harbour master?

I’m responsible for the safe movement of vessels in and out of Eden, emergency responses within the port, ensuring port security regulations are adhered to and manage the Sung Cove fishing harbour and the cargo storage area in Twofold Bay.

I’m also a marine pilot for Eden and conduct pilotage of all commercial vessels over 30m, boarding them at sea to assist their navigation through port.

What does an average day look like for you?

An average day can involve arriving early to board a ship out at sea to bring it into port. The rest of the day can vary from sorting out berths for fishing vessels and/or recreational vessels in Snug Cove to managing, repairing and maintaining navigational aids and port assets.

What kind of vessels are frequent visitors to Eden?
  

Our main trades are cruise ships, wood chip carriers and bulk carriers loading pine logs. We also get a few larger fishing vessels into Snug Cove and the occasional rig tender.

How do you prepare for visits from the bigger ships?
  

The process for safe navigation remains the same but every ship has its specific needs which we have to prepare for.

A lot of pre-planning goes into safely bringing a ship in, determining its berthing position, where mooring lines and gangways will be placed, and how many tugs, lines crew and security are needed.

How important are regional ports to small towns like Eden?
  

Very important. The timber industry is without a doubt the major employer within this region and without the port, the industry couldn’t exist. The port also helps bring other opportunities to Eden. The town was once heavily reliant on timber and fishing alone but is now growing as a popular destination for cruise passengers which is a huge boost to local businesses.

What’s been one of the highlights for you as Eden harbour master?
  

The biggest highlight so far is the completion of the Eden Cruise Wharf and bringing large ships into Snug Cove — many thought it could never happen!


Eden Cruise Wharf
(Source: Port Authority NSW)

What are the key challenges of keeping the port safe?
  

Living and working in such a small community, many see me as the face of the port alone, however there are many organisations involved, from NSW Maritime to Crownlands, towage providers to the NSW Police Marine Area Command. Ensuring the safety of the port and vessels requires a lot of collaboration.

What do you enjoy most as Eden’s harbour master?
  

As with most seafarers, we all enjoy the actual hands-on aspect of driving ships! I also enjoy living in a small community and being accepted into that community. Especially, seeing how everyone came together and looked after one another during the bushfires at the start of the year (2020)



Ports of Australia
Can you find Port of Eden?
What is the closest port to you?

(Source: Logistics Training Council)



 

Harbour Master

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Prison Officer

Fisheries Officer

Postal Worker

Local Government Inspector

Biosecurity Officer

Border Force Officer

Naval Officer

Road Worker

Army Officer

Parliamentarian

Urban and Regional Planner

Police Officer

Community Corrections

Diplomat

Public Servant

Coroner

Primary Products Inspector

Tourist Information Officer

Transport Services Officer

Meteorologist

Emergency Disaster Planner

Animal Control Officer

Building Inspector

Railway Infrastructure Worker

Weights and Measures Inspector

Patents Examiner

Intelligence Analyst

Fire Behaviour Analyst

Air Force Officer

WHS Officer

Electorate Officer

Park Ranger

Prison Officer

Fisheries Officer

Postal Worker

Local Government Inspector

Biosecurity Officer

Border Force Officer

Naval Officer

Road Worker

Army Officer

Parliamentarian

Urban and Regional Planner

Police Officer

Community Corrections

Diplomat

Public Servant

Coroner

Primary Products Inspector

Tourist Information Officer

Transport Services Officer

Meteorologist

Emergency Disaster Planner

Animal Control Officer

Building Inspector

Railway Infrastructure Worker

Weights and Measures Inspector

Patents Examiner

Intelligence Analyst

Harbour Master

Fire Behaviour Analyst

Air Force Officer

WHS Officer

Electorate Officer

Park Ranger

Prison Officer

Fisheries Officer