SAFETY | Pilotage in question(s)

What we needn't have here is failure to communicate...

What we needn't have here is failure to communicate...

Some years ago, I came across a publication of the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) named “A Safety Study of the Operational Relationship between Ship Masters/Watchkeeping Officers and Marine Pilots.” 

One of the parts of the study I considered the most interesting was the questionnaire that helped the TSB develop a more accurate understanding of the interaction among bridge personnel in pilotage waters. Its 20 questions turn out to be, in my opinion, very good and direct guidelines for those who are willing to improve safety of navigation and to evaluate pilots and pilotage services.

More recently, I realized that many of the questions could be rephrased and presented as parts of a checklist that could help pilots, masters and officers focus on what is essential for the success of the transit. As a result, I developed a basis for an after-the-pilotage checklist, to help assess the quality of the job just performed; however, I feel many of questions are also adequate for use during pilotage passages, in that they may give a head startand a guidance to the essential dialogue between the ‘ship’ and the pilot.

This is in no way a finished work. Comments are welcome!

Here are the questions:

  1. Did the master or officer of the watch inform the pilot of the manoeuvring characteristics of the vessel for its present condition?
  2. Did the pilot inform the master of local conditions which might affect the pilotage passage?
  3. Did the pilot inform the master of his manoeuvring plan for the vessel?
  4. Did the master ensure that the pilot’s passage plan and local conditions were suitable for the vessel?
  5. Did the officer of the watch monitor the vessel’s movement while the pilot had the conduct of the vessel?
  6. Did the officer of the watch plot the vessel’s position regularly while the pilot had the conduct of the vessel?
  7. Did the pilot assist the officer of the watch in the monitoring of the vessel’s movements?
  8. Did the pilot made sure his orders were understood and acknowledged by the officer of the watch?
  9. If the officer of the watch became unsure of the pilot’s intentions, does he ask for clarification?
  10. Were informative hand-over briefings, master to pilot, pilot to pilot, and pilot to master carried out?
  11. Were communications between the pilot and bridge personnel effective?
  12. Did the pilot, the master and the officer of the watch work as a team in the conduct of the vessel?
  13. Did language barriers make it difficult to establish an effective exchange of information between with the pilot and the master and officer of the watch?
  14. Did the pilot offer all necessary information regarding pilotage and manoeuvring plans for the vessel?
  15. Did the pilot ensure that relevant communications with traffic control centres or other vessels were conveyed to the master?
  16. Was the master apprised by the pilot of all safety communications regarding the navigation of the vessel in pilotage waters?

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