Torres Strait Pilots
Torres Strait Pilots have 35 pilots that provide licensed pilots for trading vessels; all tankers and vessels over 70 M are required to engage a pilot in the compulsory pilotage areas of the GBR.
To enable the pilots to get on and off piloted vessels in the designated shipping channels, Torres Pilots operates seven Pilot Launches from three pilot bases, two in the Torres Strait and one in Cairns.
The Torres strait region is one of the most remote in Australia, infra structure is extremely limited and launch reliability is an extremely important issue for Torres Pilots operations. Due to the remote location we receive requests from Government / AMSA when conducting SAR operations to assist with the recovery islanders who run out of fuel, or get into trouble with their small ‘tinnies’ in the sometimes severe weather conditions experienced in the Torres Strait. AMSA MRCC is currently involved in the search off the WA coastline searching for traces of the downed Malaysian airliner.
Torres Pilots has a diverse range of customers whose vessels are travelling to and from ports on the east coast of Australia. Container vessel operators will typically be proceeding to Brisbane and Sydney. The tankers proceeding to the refineries and terminals typically proceed via the outer route to the Coiral Sea (so they stay away from the Reef) but still require a pilot through the Torres strait.
Central Queensland coal exports are loaded on vessels which require GBR pilots to assist with transit of the GBR opening know as Hydrographers Passage. This passage is the shortest route for vessels loading at the hay Point and Dalrymple bay Coal Terminals.
Torres Pilots assists vessels carrying the bauxite ore from the mines in Weipa to the alumina refineries in Gladstone. Torres Pilots guide approximately 240 vessels per year either loaded for Gladstone or back to Weipa with empty holds, that is in ballast.
Perry Sutton has been involved for 30 years with the Pilot Service. He’s the general manager and a qualified accountant by profession, but has been a boatee too in the past. Today he manages the organisation with an experienced team.
Says Perry, “Our Pilot Launches perform thousands of hours work each year as the distances from the pilot bases to the designated pilot boarding grounds are some of the longest in the pilotage world.” To keep the launches at a high level of reliability and safety required for pilot transfers, the launches need continuous repairs and preventative maintenance and this is where KG Mechanical assists.”
We are always considering upgrades to the fleet and this requires retro fitting new safety and reliability features incorporated into the design of the new builds. The reliability of Yanmar engines has prompted Torres Pilots to progressively retro fit Yanmars to the entire fleet.
We are pretty pleased with the guys at KG Mechanical. They periodically inspect our boats up in the Torres Strait. Thursday island is 500 nautical miles from the closest town, Cairns. There’s only 3,000 residents on Thursday Island, so without K G Mechanical in Cairns, there would not be much support for us up there.”
“KG Mechanical’s staff’s commitment and customer service to their customers is recognised and appreciated by Power Equipment (Yanmar Distributor for Australia, New Zealand & Pacific Islands). Especially for the support given to their Commercial customers”
National Parts Manager
Power Equipment Pty Ltd.