Aids to navigation

The harbour channel, between the outer piers and west end of Corporation Quay, has been dredged to a depth of 7.50m LAT, with a depth of 8.50m LAT at Corporation Quay itself (these depths are subject to siltation).  Controlling parameters for entry into harbour: Vessel length - 213m, Beam - 33m, Draught - 8.2m.

The maximum parameters for vessels entering the South Docks: Length - 141.8m; Beam - 18.9m, Draught 7.6m

Reliance should not be placed solely upon published data regarding water depths. Where appropriate, advice should be sought from the harbourmaster.

The following approximate distances apply to the harbour channel:

  • Between Roker Pier and New South Pier ends - 232 metres
  • Between Roker Pier and red can buoy - 207 metres
  • Between Old North Pier and (Old) South Pier - 114 metres
  • Maximum channel width - 60 metres
  • Swinging basin - capable of swinging vessels with a maximum length of 230 metres.

Larger or deeper-draughted vessels may be permitted to enter port under certain conditions, which have been approved in advance by the Harbour Master.

Maximum parameters for vessels entering South Docks:

South Docks: Length - 141.8 metres; Beam - 18.9 metres; Draught - 7.16 metres (MHWN) or 8.08 metres (MHWS). 

Advice must first be sought from the Harbour Master or his deputies in respect of any vessel approaching all three dimensions. Maximum permitted length will vary with beam.

Vessels intending to enter, move within or sail from the port must contact Sunderland Harbour Radio on Marine VHF channel 14 or 16. 24 hours notice of ETA for shipping is generally required, with amendments at least two hours in advance.

The following aids to navigation are provided within the port and are subject to inspection by Trinity House.






Roker Lt Hse
54 55.279 N
001 21.147 W
Lighted Beacon
Fl W 5s / Tower R & W Bands
Red Can Buoy
54 55.176 N
001 21.157 W
Lighted Buoy
Qk.Fl.R / Can R
New South Pier
54 55.137 N
001 21.171 W
Lighted Beacon
Fl W 10s / Tower W
Old North Pier
54 55.128 N
001 21.601 W
Lighted Beacon
Old South Pier
54 55.032 N
001 21.678 W
Lighted Beacon
Fl R 5s / Can R
Wave Basin Battery
54 54.992 N
001 21.802 W
Lighted Beacon
FI R 2.5s
North Side Traffic Lt Mast
54 55.075 N
001 21.814 W
Traffic Signal
3 F R (vert), 3 Fl R (vert), 3 F G (vert)
Greenwells Quay
54 54.952 N
001 21.863 W
Lighted Beacon
2 F R (vert)
North Dock Outer Basin
54 55.045 N
001 21.897 W
Lighted Beacon
Fl G 5s
North Dock Entrance 2
54 55.033 N
001 21.967 W
Unlighted Beacon
Pole G / Conical G
North Dock Entrance 1
54 55.042 N
001 22.000 W
Lighted Beacon
Fl (2) G 10s / Pole G
Potato Garth
54 54.973 N
001 22.012 W
Lighted Buoy
Fl G Q / No topmark
Sand Point
54 54..895 N
001 22.0759 W
Lighted Buoy
Fl G 2.5S / No topmark
North Dock Slipway End
54 55.040 N
001 22.015 W
Unlighted Beacon
Pole Y / X
North Sands Slipway End
54 55.015 N
001 22.066 W
Unlighted Beacon
Pole B / Conical G
Deptford Sewer Outfall
54 54.814 N
001 24.150 W
Unlighted Beacon
N Board
Pallion Dock
54 54.801 N
001 24.474 W
Lighted Beacon
2 F R (vert) / Pole R / Can R
Gladstone House
54 54.744 N
001 21.672 W
Traffic Signal
3 F R (vert), 3 F G (vert)
No. 23 Berth
54  54.340 N
001 21.630 W
Lighted Beacon
Fl G 5s
Youngs Quay
54 54.623 N
001 21.613 W
Lighted Beacon
Fl R 5s
Hudson Dock Boat Club Pontoons
54 54.430 N
001 21.660 W
Lighted Beacon          
Fl Y 10s
Hendon Dock Junction (West Side)
54 54.259 N
001 21.598 W
Lighted Beacon
Fl G 2.5s


All vessels and craft must comply with the following instructions concerning navigation to and from the South Docks complex and river closure:

South Dock and “Port Closed” signals

Movement of vessels into and out of the South Docks is controlled by colour light signals for both daytime and night time use.

These signals are positioned at No. 3 Gateway, mounted on the roof of the building just to the East side of the gateway (Gladstone House) and on the lattice steel tower on the inner end of the Old North Pier.

The signals at No. 3 Gateway are visible from the Tidal Basin and the Half-Tide Basin and from the South Docks. The signals on the Old North Pier are visible from vessels entering the harbour and from the lower part of the river.

The signals will be for both daytime and nighttime when the dock gates are open for traffic and must be observed by all vessels as follows:


Vessels may pass IN when three green lights in a vertical line are exhibited on both Old North Pier and at the North side of No. 3 Gateway.


Vessels may pass OUT when three green lights in a vertical line are exhibited at the South side of No. 3 Gateway and three red lights in a vertical line are exhibited at the Old North Pier.

Vessels may not proceed in or out of the South Docks if three red lights in a vertical line are exhibited at No. 3 Gateway.

Dock Closed for Traffic:

No signals will be shown.

Road Bridge:

NIGHT – When the gates are open, but the bridge (Gladstone Bridge) is across for road traffic, two red lights, one above the other, will be shown from the upper part of the bridge.


Every vessel shall comply with the foregoing signals and no vessel shall pass in, or pass out of the docks, or attempt to do so, otherwise than in accordance with such signals.

Whistle Stop:

The signal of “one long, one short and one long blast” may be used by a vessel to indicate that she wishes to enter the docks or pass out of the docks.

Port Closed:

Three flashing red lights in a vertical line exhibited from Old North Pier, both to seaward and towards the Tidal Basin, indicate that the river is closed to traffic.

Vessels may obtain information regarding passage into and out of South Docks and Port Closure status from “Sunderland Harbour Radio” on VHF channel 14.

Further information concerning port entry and navigation may be obtained from “Admiralty Charts and Publications.”

Pre-arrival notifications

The following forms must be emailed at least 24-hours in advance to

ISPS Pre-Arrival Notification (DfT PAN form – latest version) (all commercial vessels exceeding 499 gross tonnage)

Crew List (all commercial vessels)

Ship’s Waste Notification (all commercial vessels)

Dangerous Goods Manifest (where applicable)

Failure to notify pre-arrival information as above may result in delays to or prohibition of vessel entry.

Get in touch with our team at Port of Sunderland

Matthew Hunt
Port Director
Captain Kevin Ullah
Harbour Master
Keith Middleton
Cargo Operations Manager
Neil Mearns
Marine Services Manager / PFSO
Karen Lindsay
Commercial Officer
Jon Holvey
Port Engineering Manager
Darren Day
Logistics Manager
Andy Foster
Business Development Manager