Maritime Border Command

​Major Roles and Responsibilities:

​Maritime Border Command is Australia's lead civil maritime security authority.  We primarily operate offshore to safeguard Australia's maritime jurisdiction.

Maritime Border Command comprises a unique blend of both Departmental staff and members of the Australian Defence Force . It is led by a Rear Admiral appointed from the Department of Defence who is also a sworn Australian Border Force officer, enabling operational control of both Australian Border Force assets and assigned Defence assets.

Maritime Border Command's maritime surveillance and response activities are coordinated from the Australian Maritime Security Operations Centre, located at our headquarters in Canberra.  We also maintain a regional presence in Broome, Cairns, Darwin and Thursday Island.

The following sections articulates various roles and responsibilities of Maritime Border Command

Mitigate maritime security threats

Maritime Border Command uses an intelligence-led, risk-based approach to combatting threats occurring within Australia's maritime jurisdiction.

Australia's Exclusive Economic Zone is one of the largest in the world. Australia's total marine area exceeds a staggering 10 million square kilometres.

Maritime Border Command's operations are tailored to counter eight civil maritime security threats within this vast maritime environment. These are:

  • illegal activity in protected areas
  • illegal exploitation of natural resources
  • marine pollution
  • prohibited imports/exports
  • illegal maritime arrivals
  • compromise to bio-security
  • piracy, robbery or violence at sea
  • maritime terrorism

More information on the civil maritime security threats and Australia's maritime security arrangements can be found in Resources, publications and contacts.

Monitor and analyse relevant information

Maritime Border Command has a dedicated Intelligence Centre which collects, processes, integrates, evaluates, analyses and interprets information and intelligence to generate civil maritime domain awareness. The specific focus is on the eight civil maritime security threats.

Maintain a 24/7 command centre

Maritime Border Command maintains a continuous watch (24 hours a day, every day of the year) over Australia's maritime jurisdiction via the Australian Maritime Border Operations Centre. The Centre utilises unique systems such as the Australian Maritime Identification System to detect, risk assess and track vessels operating in or approaching Australia's maritime zones. It also coordinates the Command's air and sea operations.

Exercise operational control of surveillance and response resources

Maritime Border Command adopts an intelligence-led, risk-based approach to plan and undertake both strategic maritime surveillance and targeted operations. Our maritime operations are conducted by both surface and air assets which either belong to the Department of Home Affairs (which includes the Australian Border Force) or are assigned for use by the Department of Defence. The Command also utilises commercial satellite imagery to conduct surveillance of remote areas of our ocean.

Australian Border Force assets include Cape Class patrol vessels and contracted Dash-8 surveillance aircraft.  Defence-assigned assets include Royal Australian Air Force AP-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft and Royal Australian Navy patrol boats.


MBC P3 Orion
MBC Armidale

Other Defence and contracted response assets can be utilised if required.

More information on assets can be found at Maritime.

Contribute to Operation ​​Sovereign Borders

Operation Sovereign Borders is a military-led border security operation which is dedicated to tackling maritime people smuggling.

Maritime Border Command is instrumental to the success of Operation Sovereign Borders by delivering the maritime operational capabilities required for detection, interception and transfer activities. Visit Operation Sovereign Borders more information.

Engage with partner agencies

Maritime Border Command's posture and operations are guided by, and on behalf of, Commonwealth agency stakeholders. We work closely with Commonwealth, State and Territory Government agencies to provide a whole of government response to the eight civil maritime security threats.

This requires close working relationships and involves regular consultation and engagement, information sharing arrangements, strategic tasking arrangements and coordinated response operations.

Maritime Border Command liaises with a range or partner agencies on a regular basis including the Australian Fisheries Management Authority, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority,  the Australian Antarctic Division and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

Engage with International Counterparts


Engage with International Counterparts

Maritime Border Command collaborates with international intelligence and law enforcement authorities through information sharing, joint patrols and other cooperative arrangements.

In addition to sharing information between relevant agencies within Australia, Maritime Border Command also exchanges relevant information with a number of foreign agencies and defence forces. This occurs on both a bilateral and multilateral basis.

Australia is a member of the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia, and Maritime Border Command serves as the focal point for sharing information about piracy related incidents in our region with other member countries.

Australia is also a member state of the Heads of Asian Coast Guard Agencies Meeting. Maritime Border Command represents Australia in this forum, which is a platform for sharing information and operational experience on civil maritime security issues such as people smuggling, search and rescue, and environmental protection.

Engage with Industry


Maritime Border Command engages regularly with maritime industry participants.  Our engagement recognises that Maritime Border Command's actions can affect industry and that industry's attitudes towards compliance and preventive security can also impact our operations.

Maritime Border Command seeks to increase industry awareness about potential incidents which may affect it and to enhance its ability and preparedness to respond. Our broad goal is to create and sustain a secure and safe maritime operating environment for industry participants to be able to conduct their business.

More information for Industry participants can be found in Resources, publications and contacts.

Maritime Border Command