Tag Archives: pilotage

NEW ZEALAND | ‘Quick-thinking pilot’ saved Schelde Trader

The charterers of the Schelde Trader that ran aground in the port entrance last Friday [Oct 28] are praising the Port of Tauranga for its quick actions.

Maersk’s Auckland based New Zealand country manager Julian Beavis says the Port was very quick off the mark (sic) in reacting to the incident.

“These things do happen very infrequently, but they do – and it’s the responsibility of everybody to be trained to deal with incidents when they happen. Everybody who was involved acted with great despatch, and I’m very grateful to the Port, and everybody down there for what they did.”

Dutch registered Schelde Trader is chartered by Maersk, and was leaving Tauranga for Noumea when her engine failed.

When the engine stopped the hydraulics failed, which meant steering was also lost. As the ship began to swing across the current, the Port of Tauranga pilot gave the command for the man on the bow to let go the port anchor.

The anchor slowed the ship enough so that when the Schelde Trader hit the rocks, it was a relatively gentle collision, compared to what could have happened.

Without the pilot’s quick actions, the 8000 tonne container ship would have struck the rocks at about 12 knots, causing serious damage to the ship. As it was she was able to be pulled free on the outgoing tide, only a few minutes after grounding.

The Port of Tauranga pilots train on simulators for a range of eventualities, says Port of Tauranga operations manager Nigel Drake.

Harbour pilots are Master Mariners who guide ships into and out of the port of Tauranga. It is a centuries old convention that uses local knowledge to ensure the safety of ships as they enter and leave ports around the world.

The Schelde Trader was scheduled to depart for Noumea on the Friday morning.  The pilot boarded about 10.30am, says Port of Tauranga Operations manager Nigel Drake.

“The pilot undertakes a passage plan with the master which is normal practice,” says Nigel. “He talks with the master of the vessel about the manoeuvre from the berth, the conditions both weather and tide prevailing, and any swell that might be encountered in the seas outside the harbour.”

In the case of the Schelde Trader, a relatively small 133 metre, 6,700 gross tonne container ship, draught was not an issue, says Nigel.

A single tug helped clear the ship from the berth, and stood by at the No 1 berth for its next job as the Schelde Trader entered the cutter channel. She rounded the turn and was on course to pass between B and C buoys when the engine stopped.

Fonte: http://www.sunlive.co.nz/news/18232-quick-thinking-pilot-saves-ship.html

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MARITIME | EMPA position on competition in the pilotage service

In recent years EMPA has persistently explained to the European Commission and to Members of European Parliament that pilotage was not a commercial service. Pilots have clearly mentioned in the discussions about the non-followed projects of EU directives about port services that the constraints of general interest of a pilotage service, whose objective is to preserve maritime safety and the protection of environment in ports, are not compatible with a market approach and free competition logic. Therefore EMPA is strongly opposed to competition between pilot services in a mandatory state pilotage area.

In the late 19th century, competition was the rule. It was exactly because of poor service levels that Governments decided to ban this and to attribute the service to a single provider in the frame of a regulated organisation. Today, in every European Member State, Pilotage regulations have established a corps of state-controlled pilots whose competence, knowledge and training has been tested and confirmed. In addition to their service obligations, pilots have a duty of reporting any deficiencies they encounter on board the ships they assist and which could constitute a risk to navigation and/or a threat to the marine environment. Doing this, they fully participate to the mission of preventing maritime accidents organised by the European Union. Pilots are thus not only serving the interests of the piloted ship but also the interests of other maritime traffic, the port and the State.

For reasons of port safety and free circulation of ships in ports, the public service obligations of pilots should be rendered under supervision by a Competent Pilot Authority that guarantees a level playing field including minimum service levels, qualifications of pilots and the pilot dues. The pilot dues must be set by the Competent Authority after consultation with the port users, the port authorities and the pilots’ organization. Competition and commercial pressure will only lead to discriminatory “cherry picking” and thus will break the continuity of the overall pilot service in a port.

  • Pilots cannot exercise their independent judgement under commercial pressure. Their only considerations should be nautical technical with priority to public safety. Pilots must be able to refuse any operation if the safety of it is not guaranteed. In a competitive environment, it is extremely difficult for pilots to maintain their independence; their dependability will shift from the interests of the port community to their sole contractual customers. Pilots who compete for work will do things that they would refuse to do for safety reasons in a non-competitive setting. This leads the way to foreseen accidents.
  • With more than one service provider, the economy of scale is lost: competing providers do not cooperate, thus doubling the costs for pilot boats expenses, logistics operations… Duplication of expenses is contrary to the public interest and the protection of environment. Opportunities for significant economies of scale reducing the overall costs are missed and competing companies, for making more profits, are not using the best “state-of-the art” equipment but sometimes old, unsafe and non-environmentally friendly ones.
  • Competitive pilotage is by its very nature discriminatory. In economic efficiency terms, competing providers are looking for the more regular (liner), more lucrative (large), easiest work while other traffic will be neglected or delayed. This leads to what is called “cherry picking” or “cream skimming”. Maybe there will be reduced tariffs for one shipping line but this will be to the disadvantage of other port users who will be neglected. Safe and efficient pilotage should be provided to all port users at all times (European principle of universality of the service).
  • Poor human and material resources: all experiments with competition have shown, in spite of regulation, longer working and shorter rest periods with consequential fatigue induced decrements in performance. For reasons of economy and limited term contracts, there could be pressure to postpone recruitment of new pilots, to reduce training & education to the strict minimum, less recurrent training programs, less incentive to invest in boats and equipment.
  • Competition experiments in pilotage may provide an environment for corruption to flourish. As there are no regulations of the rates that pilotage companies charge and collect for their services, corruption may occur with the various private organisations siphoning off large percentage to place work with favourite suppliers to the detriment of safety and quality.
  • Competition requires a greater level of regulatory involvement in pilotage. The burdens placed on the regulatory authorities are much greater with competition than without competition, particularly in the areas of licensing, training and rates1. With competition, a greater level of oversight is required to monitor the activities of the pilots to prevent abuses.

With the aim of offering port users a quality service, European seaports need to be able to draw on a pool of skilled and properly trained pilots, because the quality of a pilot service depends above all on the training and experience of the pilots. Competition may endanger the efficient training of pilots as recommended by IMO Resolution A.960.

Therefore EMPA believes competition is not the way to implement a modern, safe and efficient pilotage system in Europe.

Source: http://www.empa-pilots.org/userfiles/file/EMPA%20position%20about%20competition_final.pdf

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ACCIDENTS: No interaction between people, destructive interaction between ships

From the British Maritime Accident Investigation Branch’s Safety Digest 2/2011:


A 2,800gt cargo vessel collided with a 58,000gt ro-ro vessel as it was overtaking the larger vessel in the confines of a buoyed channel when they were departing from a major port. Local pilots were embarked on both vessels at the time.

The ro-ro vessel had recently entered the channel from a lock, and was steadily increasing speed as the cargo vessel approached her from the starboard quarter. The cargo vessel’s pilot assumed the ro-ro vessel would quickly increase speed and pull ahead, and initially was not concerned as the distance between the two vessels continued to decrease.

However, the cargo vessel continued to overtake the other vessel, and with shallow water to starboard it reduced speed in an attempt to prevent a collision. Unfortunately this action was ineffective as the cargo vessel was now so close to the ro-ro vessel that hydrodynamic interaction occurred between the two vessels. The cargo vessel took a sheer to port and collided with the ro-ro vessel’s starboard quarter.

The cargo vessel’s engine was stopped, but she remained pinned against the ro-ro vessel for several minutes. The ro-ro vessel’s bridge team had been unaware of the close proximity of the other vessel until the collision occurred as both vessels had been monitoring different VHF channels.

The cargo vessel’s engine was then put astern and she slid aft, along the ro-ro vessel’s hull, until she came clear of the larger vessel. Both vessels suffered minor damage as a result of the collision, but were able to continue on their respective passages.

The Lessons

  1. The cargo vessel was overtaking the ro-ro vessel and was thus the give way vessel. However, the pilot of the cargo vessel assumed that the ro-ro vessel would quickly pull ahead, but by the time it was realised that this was not happening, it was too late to avoid a collision. The pilot of the cargo vessel made an assumption, based on scanty information, that the ro-ro vessel was increasing speed. He should have ensured that this was the case before coming so close to the other vessel that a collision was unavoidable.[REMARK: Something like a "before overtaking checklist" might be useful in helping pilots and bridge teams avoid critical errors in this potentially hazardous situation. It might as well contribute to avoid the dangers of the "control and command" style of navigation in restricted waters. Pilotage is a complex act that requires orchestration rather than one or two bright soloists.]
  2. Hydrodynamic interaction occurred between the two vessels when the cargo vessel drew level with the ro-ro’s starboard quarter. There was a strong attractive force between the two vessels due to the reduced pressure between the underwater portion of the hulls. Mariners should familiarise themselves with MGN 199 (M) Dangers of interactionin order to be alert to the situations when hydrodynamic interaction may occur.[REMARK: A video from the Ilawa Ship Handling Research Training Centre can give you a better idea of how this sort of interaction between ships is about. There is also some relevant footage from the Port Revel Training Centre on the same subject.]
  3. The bridge personnel were not functioning as a team on either vessel. They had been monitoring different VHF channels and those on the ro-ro vessel were not aware of the cargo vessel until after the collision. It is essential that every member of the bridge team remains vigilant and fully involved in monitoring the execution of the passage, and that a good all round lookout is maintained when the vessel is in pilotage waters as well as when she is at sea.[REMARK: It's about communication and awareness, after all. If overtakings are allowed in pilotage districts, everyone involved in the passage must be aware or made aware of this possibility and prepare for it accordingly.]

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MARITIME NEWS | US: docking pilot to hang it up after 40 years

He’s been handling some of the biggest machines on the planet for the last 40 years, and they keep getting bigger.

Coleman Summersett, 73, is a docking pilot. He maneuvers those mammoth cargo ships in and out of the Charleston port, a job that requires concentration and a delicate touch. There’s no room for error. Once these behemoths start moving, it takes a while to change direction.


The job also requires some physical strength and agility. Summersett hops onto a tugboat to meet a ship coming into harbor, then climbs a ladder three stories above the water onto the deck.

Once on deck, the bridge is another eight stories up in the air. Some ships have elevators to get there. Others require another climb.

Summersett has been working tugboats and ships since he was 15 years old, 58 years ago. He loves it, but he’s starting to feel his age. He is retiring at the end of the month.

“The ships are getting higher and higher,” he said. “I keep telling myself I’m as good as I ever was, but … I know I’m not. You hate to admit defeat, you know. Everybody gets old, I guess.”

It’s hard to tell it from looking at him. He jumps on and off a tugboat like a cat.

There’s no mandatory retirement age for a docking pilot. It was up to Summersett to hang up his hat at McAllister Towing, according to Vice President and General Manager Steve Kicklighter.

“Coleman is an amazing specimen,” Kicklighter said. “To be able to do what he does and go up the sides of the ships like he does on those ladders at (almost) 74 years old is amazing. I mean, you shake his hand, there’s still a lot of strength left there, you know what I mean?”

McAllister is one of two companies that provide tugboats and docking pilots for ships coming in and out of Charleston (Moran is the other one). The docking pilots work with the tugboats to get the ships docked or pointed out to sea.

Ships come into and leave the Charleston ports 24 hours a day. Summersett works 24-hour shifts, a day on and a day off. Eventually, the water becomes your life — the hum of the engines, the smell of the salt air mixed with diesel fuel, the rocking of the waves.

“When you got a job that you like to do, that’s wonderful,” Summersett said. “I’ve always liked being out in the open, out there in the hot sun and the wind and the thunder and the lightning. Every job is different. You have different crews and you have different boats, so there’s always a little challenge there.”

On the other hand, you’ve got to be willing to forgo a normal schedule.

“I tell all the young people that come in looking for a job all the time that it’s not really a job; it’s a lifestyle,” said Kicklighter, who has been working the water for 34 years.

“Honestly, there’s a lot of things you don’t get to do with this job. At 3 in the morning ships are coming and you got to get up and do it,” he said. “You miss a lot of stuff. You miss soccer games. You miss the ballet. Having said that, it gets to the point where that stuff starts to get irrelevant to you. You know you got to go do your job. It’s what you do.”

On the average, 11 ships come into or leave the harbor every day, S.C. Ports Authority spokesman Byron Miller said.

In the 1950s, when Summersett started working on a tugboat, ships would be in port days at a time. Now, a ship can unload, reload and leave in a day.

Ships didn’t start packing their loads into containers for quick transport until the mid-1960s.

Now, a single ship can hold enough containers to keep a fleet of trucks busy hauling them off. For instance, Maersk’s 958-foot-long Missouri, one of the ships that Summerset guided out to sea last week, can carry 4,824 containers.

“These guys have seen so much change, and the technology has changed dramatically,” Miller said. “The ships are getting larger and larger, because we want it cheaper and faster.”

Despite the demands of his job, Summersett has been married to the same woman, Nancy, for 47 years. They have a daughter, Samantha, who lives with them in Awendaw on a farm that includes horses and cows.

He plans to stay outside after he retires.

“I’m going to fish and hunt, a whole lot of it,” he said.

Source: http://www.postandcourier.com/news/2011/aug/21/harbor-pilot-to-hang-it-up/

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YEAR OF THE SEAFARER | Looking forward to a golden age in pilotage

Helen Kelly | LLOYD’S LIST

STEVE Pelecanos jokes that he only became a pilot to enjoy the ‘retirement-like’ lifestyle.

In 1970s Australia, with a young family to support, the shore-based vocation must have seemed halcyon compared with its more capricious ocean-going alternative. But a quiet life was not to be for this outspoken Queenslander with a fire in his belly in an industry in need dire of modernisation. “Our obligation as a pilot is to look forward,” he says. “Unfortunately, there are many people in shipping that gaze in the rear view mirror and look backwards to a ‘golden age’ that is past.”

His most recent campaign is to fix the broken system of pilotage on the Great Barrier Reef. It is a system inherited from a previous federal government, which believed greater competition between pilots would drive costs down at some of Australia’s biggest trading ports. Continue reading


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