Search the Collection
Advanced Search

Queensland Coast and Torres Strait Pilot Service pilots

Date: 10 July 1953
Overall: 415 x 334 mm
Medium: Carbon copy
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Margaret Royds
Object Name: List
Object No: ANMS1128[037]
Related Place:Murray Island,

User Terms

    A list of Queensland Coast and Torres Strait Pilot Service pilots, ships and times dated 10 July 1953.
    SignificanceThis list is part of the Basil Helm collection which has considerable significance in the commercial area of Australian maritime history. Along with the Burns Philp shipping company, the Helm's collection contains a superb record of the celebrated Queensland Coast and Torres Strait Pilot Service. This important organisation was closely connected to Burns Philp, from which several of its pilots, including Helm, came.
    HistoryThe Queensland Coast and Torres Strait Pilot Service originated in the 1890s as an association of pilots licensed by the Queensland Marine Board to pilot ships through the dangerous passages of the Queensland coast and the Torres Strait. Before 1884 individual pilots had offered their services, and shipping companies which regularly used the routes employed their own pilots. Licensing began in 1884 along with regulations as to how pilots should conduct their business. In 1893 a family firm of marine insurance brokers, Banks Bros of Sydney, became the secretariat of the pilots. The pilots themselves were self-employed, operating as a type of co-operative in which all the work and expenses were shared using a turn-by-turn system. At the end of WW1 there were 12 licensed pilots, at the beginning of WWII there were 15, by 1957 there were 31, by 1980 there were 40. In 1993 the Australian Maritime Safety Authority took over administration of the QCTSPS. The name was changed to Torres Pilots. With the diminishing number of ships on the Australian register, Australian mariners with the required expertise in the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait became harder to find. In 2006 there were 30 pilots in the service, and pilots from other countries were being sought and trained.

    Pilotage extends from the Queensland border at Danger Point to Booby Island, a distance of 1372 nautical miles, making it the longest single pilotage in the world. Pilots also extend their pilotage to New Guinea and Bougainville, or as far as Western Australia.
    Since 1991, pilotage has been compulsory for all ships longer than 100 m, all oil and chemical tankers and liquid gas carriers, to employ a pilot.

    Membership of the Torres Strait Pilots has always carried prestige. Licensed pilots have to be master mariners, and until recent years had to have extensive experience in the passages of the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait. Applicants to join the service were always well known to the pilots, because they had necessarily sailed through the region with them for many years. New pilots had to be acceptable to the existing ones. Licenses to join the pilot service were keenly sought after. Only two were accepted in 1942, the year Basil Helm joined.

    Additional Titles

    Collection title: Basil Helm collection

    Assigned title: Queensland Coast and Torres Strait Pilot Service pilots

    Discuss this Object


    Please log in to add a comment.