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port of sunderland


Situated at the mouth of the River Wear, the harbour is safe and easy to take, the entrance being protected by Roker and New South Piers which sweep out into the sea in the form of two converging curves and enclose an outer harbour water area of about 53 hectares.

port of sunderland navigationWithin these protecting piers, the Old North and South Piers are situated on either side of the river entrance, beyond which is the inner harbour.

The current operational port area encompasses the South Docks and river berths on the south side of the River Wear, seaward of the western end of Corporation Quay. Commercial traffic also navigates upriver to the Fish Quay, and occasionally to Deptford and Pallion, subject to navigating during daylight hours and strict restrictions on water/air draught and dimensions.

port of sunderland navigationSouth Docks is an impounded system, comprising Hudson and Hendon Docks and is entered from the river via a half-tide basin situated on the south side of the inner harbour.

Sunderland Marina (North Dock) is situated opposite the entrance to South Docks and is managed by a private organisation. Craft can contact “Sunderland Marina” directly on Marine VHF Channel M (37).

The harbour channel, between the outer piers and west end of Corporation Quay, has been dredged to a depth of 7.5 metres LAT, with a depth of 8.8 metres LAT at Corporation Quay itself. These depths are subject to siltation.

A speed limit of 6-knots applies to the entire harbour

Tidal streams to seaward of the Harbour entrance are indicated on Admiralty charts.

In the River Wear, which is subject to freshets, the streams in the vicinity of Sunderland run as follows

Time from HW Tyne


- 0605

ingoing stream  commences

- 0005

outgoing stream commences


After prolonged northerly winds, a strong southerly flow with a rate of about 3 knots perhaps experienced in the approach to the Harbour entrance.

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.

Reliance should not be placed solely upon published data regarding water depths. Where appropriate, advice should be sought from the Harbour Master or his deputies.

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.


No signals will be shown.


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.


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.


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.