Australian Navy patrol boats went to the assistance of a suspected asylum seeker boat carrying 188 people on Friday night.
Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare said HMAS Bundaberg and HMAS Wollongong rendered assistance to the vessel north east of Christmas Island.
AAP reports the vessel was initially detected by a RAAF maritime patrol aircraft.
The passengers will be transferred to Christmas Island for initial security, health and identity checks.
Mr Clare said people arriving by boat without a visa since 13 August run the risk of transfer to a regional processing country.