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TNPA > Our Ports > Port Elizabeth > Functions

Port Elizabeth: Functions

Radio/port control

The Port of Port Elizabeth’s control tower is manned 24 hours a day. A continuous radio listening watch is kept on VHF channels 12, 16, and 29 megs (mHz). The port has a Vessel Traffic System and radar to ensure safety of vessel movements.

Navigation Ballast requirements

Vessels must be sufficiently ballasted to permit safe navigation within the port. The discharge of ballast water is not allowed in the port.


The port is a compulsory pilotage area. If the Harbour Master is satisfied that the Master of the vessel is competent to navigate such vessel safely within the limits of the port without the assistance of a pilot, he may grant permission to do so, provided that the vessel is less than 70 m in length and a regular caller, but does not include tankers.

Pilot ladders must comply with SOLAS regulations. All vessels with a freeboard in excess of 9 m must have an accommodation ladder rigged in conjunction with the pilot ladder. Man ropes must be provided.

The pilot boarding area which is situated approximately 2,5 nautical miles north east of the breakwater light, is marked by the Fairway buoy. Vessels should call Port Control VHF 16 when 3 miles from the pilot boarding area for final berthing instructions.

Small craft licences are not transferable from one owner to another. Craft, not exceeding 70 metres in length, may obtain pilotage exemption.

Assistance (e.g. tugs)

Three twin Z-peller tugs and one Voith Schneider tug are stationed at the port for assisting with docking and undocking operations. Each tug has a bollard pull of 50 tons and is maintained to the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) standards.

The tugs are equipped with radar, echo sounders, direction finders, telephone radio transmitters, salvage and fire fighting equipment. The port also operates a pilot boat, work boat and launch.

All boats can be used for general purposes such as supplying stores to vessels not entering the port and transferring sick or injured people from vessels off limits.