MARITIME NEWS: ‘Pilot error’ costs P&I clubs US$ 50 million per year

Pilot error is costing the protection-and-indemnity (P&I) clubs $50m per year with the claims bill appearing to be increasing.

An analysis of 406 claims that cost the clubs $443m over nine years shows the number of incidents arising from pilot error is not increasing but the value of claims is.

[Of course it is: for starters, ships have been getting bigger.]

A breakdown of pilotage claims produced by Mark Williams of the West of England Club, who is chairman of the International Group’s pilotage subcommittee, puts Mexico in the top spot with an incident costing $100,000 or more for each 13,440 pilotage moves.

By contrast, Italy has the best performance with a costly incident only arising once in 70,400 moves.

But the Mexican figure was based on only three casualties.

The worst place for pilotage error where there was a substantial level of pilotage activity was Argentina, with one in 24,591 moves producing a casualty.

But a challenge for the clubs in tackling the problem of pilot error is that there is little international regulation of standards to match that of seafarers.

The International Group has mooted the idea of pilotage being added to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)’s Standards of Training Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) convention but Williams accepts that finding a state to sponsor the change and then pushing the change through was likely to be difficult.

[It was tried before — and failed. What came up was the IMO Resolution A-960.]

Although a pilot may cause a casualty and the master of a ship have little knowledge or opportunity to challenge a bad decision, the shipowner usually ends up footing the bill.

[Expected, though not always fair, as the asymetry of resources between pilots and shipowners and carriers is hugely in favour of the latters.]

The idea of the clubs or some other insurer providing insurance for pilots so they had equally deep pockets was mooted at the conference but an objection is that the premium would be added to pilotage fees, so the owner would still end up with the bill.

Source: Tradewinds, 2012.02.01

1 Comment

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One response to “MARITIME NEWS: ‘Pilot error’ costs P&I clubs US$ 50 million per year

  1. Good point on the asymmetry of resources between pilots and shipowners. Additionally;

    1. “Although a pilot may cause a tragedy…” Haven’t P&I clubs caught up with the rest of the world yet? One man errors should be virtually impossible in an era of ISM, BRM, Master/Pilot exchanges and pilotage passage planning. On the one hand they like to perpetuate the myth that a pilot is merely “advising” the master, yet on the other they want to say that a pilot has caused an accident?

    2. “…the shipowner usually ends up footing the bill.” This perpetuates the mistaken belief that pilots have no accountability for their actions. In most jurisdictions the pilot is shielded from civil liability (i.e. costs) by the law (for very sound reasons) whereas he or she remains liable to prosecution under criminal or special maritime laws of the country concerned. As with seafarers, criminalisation of pilots is increasing globally.

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