Bulk carrier taking on water off Qld coast

A cargo ship taking on water off the Queensland coast is being escorted to safety by tugboats after sparking an emergency response.

The Panama-flagged bulk carrier Frontier Unity reported seven metres of water in its engine room while heading to Hay Point near Mackay on Tuesday.

Twenty four people are aboard the vessel, which is empty of coal.

An Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) representative said it was notified of an incident off Hay Point about 1pm on Tuesday.

"AMSA was informed the Panama-flagged bulk carrier ship Frontier Unity was experiencing water ingress into its engine room following repair work undertaken by commercial divers," the representative told AAP in a statement.

"As the ship is within port limits and under the National Plan for Maritime Environmental Emergencies, Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) is the lead agency responding to this incident, with AMSA providing additional support."

AMSA, which has a representative at the scene, tasked the Cairns-based Challenger aircraft to drop de-watering pumps to the Frontier Unity.

No injuries or fatalities have been reported.

"All parties involved are working collaboratively in the response to this incident to minimise risk to safety or the environment," AMSA said.

The ship has been reported as being stable, with the water ingress now stemmed, and is remaining at anchor with two tugboats alongside.