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Passage Planning: an image


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2014/01/07 · 13:30

MARITIME: Guidelines to Master-Pilot Exchange

The text below was produced by the Canadian Marine Pilots’ Association and published on their site. I understand that not all guidelines may be applicable to pilotage districts elsewhere; still, I regard them as a welcome contribution of the Canadian pilots to the matter of pilotage and maritime safety.

In accordance with Annex 2 of the International Maritime Organization’s Resolution A960 on Pilotage – “Recommendation on training and certification and on operational procedures for maritime pilots other than deep sea pilots” – each pilotage assignment should begin with an information exchange between the pilot and the master. Each pilot group is encouraged to develop, in collaboration with its regional pilotage authority, a standard practice for the exchange of information, taking into account statutory requirements and best practices in the pilotage area. Pilots should consider using an information card or checklist (a “MPX Card”) to ensure that essential exchange items are covered. The card should supplement and assist, not substitute for, the verbal information exchange.

The following is offered as guidance for the development of standard practices for the exchange of information between the master and the pilot regarding navigational procedures, local conditions and rules, and the ship’s characteristics.

Initial conference

The initial conference is an opportunity not only to exchange information that the pilot and master each needs, but also for the pilot and the master to establish an appropriate working relationship.

The amount and nature of the information to be exchanged in the initial conference should be determined by the specific navigation demands of the pilotage assignment. This information should typically include: the ship’s navigational characteristics and equipment; plans and procedures for the anticipated passage, special conditions that may be expected during the passage; the characteristics and number of tugs to be used, as appropriate; and the language to be used on the bridge and with external parties.

For some assignments, particularly those involving a long run or difficult maneuvers at the beginning, not all relevant information must, or should, be exchanged in the initial conference. Additional information can be exchanged as the assignment proceeds and communication should be understood as a continuous process that generally continues for the duration of the assignment.

MPX Card

The pilot should give the MPX Card to the master at the time of the initial conference and use it as the basis for discussion during the conference.

The Card should include information specific to navigation in the local pilotage area as well as the instructions or requests concerning the pilot’s needs from the master and crew.

When presented by the master and crew with “pilot cards” containing the characteristics or operational condition of the vessel, pilots should keep in mind they are under no obligation to sign or initial such documents and that a signature could be construed as a form of confirmation of the condition of the vessel.

Absent or unwilling master

An effective exchange requires the participation of a master who is present, is willing, and has sufficient skills, knowledge, and language proficiency to provide the information needed by the pilot and to understand the pilot’s instructions.

If the master or bridge crew fails to provide the information needed by the pilot or if an unsatisfactory exchange leads the pilot to doubt the ability of the master or crew to perform the navigation duties normally expected during the assignment, the pilot should use his best professional judgment to determine whether it is safe to proceed with the assignment.

If a pilot determines that an assignment can safely proceed despite an unsatisfactory exchange, the pilot should adjust his pilotage practices accordingly and report the master’s refusal to engage in an exchange or to provide required information.

If a pilot determines that it is not safe to proceed with an assignment due to an unsatisfactory exchange, the pilot should refuse to proceed, advise the master/bridge crew on anchoring the vessel or take other steps to secure the vessel’s safety, and notify appropriate authorities by the best means available.

Conduct of the vessel

The MPX Card and the initial conference should clearly convey that, under Canada’s Pilotage Act, no person other than a pilot licensed for the compulsory pilotage area where the assignment takes places may conduct the vessel (Subsection 25 (1)).

The exchange should also underline that the only situation where a person other than the pilot – this being the master – can legally take conduct of the vessel is if he has reasonable grounds to believe that the pilot’s actions are endangering the safety of the vessel. It should be added that, in this event, the master must file a report with the pilotage authority within three days, setting out his reasons.

The exchange may also emphasize that, with the exception of the singular situation described above, the authority to make decisions related to the conduct of the vessel is entrusted solely with the pilot and that no other person, including representatives of the owner, the charterer, the underwriter, the shipper, or their agents, may interfere with the conduct of the vessel by the pilot and related decisions or hinder the discharge of his duties.

Use of auto-pilot and auto-tracking systems

The MPX Card and initial conference should clearly convey that an autopilot or auto-tracking system may only be used with the express consent of the pilot and that, in those situations when such systems are used, a qualified helmsman shall be ready, at all times and without delay, to take over steering control.

Passage planning

In accordance with the IMO’s Resolution A960, plans and procedures for the anticipated passage should be discussed during the initial conference, with the understanding that any passage plan is only a basic indication of preferred intention and that – pilotage being a dynamic exercise – both the pilot and the master should be prepared to depart from the plan when circumstances so dictate.

Portable pilot units (PPU)

In those cases where pilots carry aboard a portable pilot unit, they should advise the master and bridge crew of how the system will be used.

Ships calling on a regular basis

The information exchange should not be abandoned for vessels that call on a frequent basis; such vessels have the potential to induce complacency.

Pilot-to-pilot transfer

The transferor pilot should request the master’s presence during the transfer.

Recognizing that the circumstances of many pilot-to-pilot transfers do not allow much time for extensive discussion among the pilots and the master, pilots should focus on quickly exchanging the most critical information, including any unusual handling or operational characteristics of the vessel.

Where practical, the transferor pilot should repeat to the transferee pilot information previously provided to the master, in the master’s presence, and ask the master to confirm that the information is correct.

Training in the Master-Pilot Information Exchange

The master-pilot information exchange should be an important focus of initial and continuous training for pilots.

Initial training should cover statutory requirements, recognition of language and cultural impediments to effective communication and techniques for overcoming those, and best practices in the pilotage area.

Continuous training should review initial training items and examine new practices and studies dealing with the subject.


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ARGENTINA | Divers find four more bodies in sunken vessel

From Buenos Aires Herald, 2012.05.13

Prefecture divers found four more bodies belonging to helmsman Marcelo Osvaldo Córdoba, chief engineer Felipe Aguirre, sailor Cristian Marmet and José de la Fuente Sequeire, all members of the missing crew of the vessel “Río Turbio,” which collided with Paraguayan tug “Ava Paraguya” on the Parana de las Palmas river.

So far six fatal victims have been found in the wreckage: Ciriaco Rodríguez, Gustavo Caracciolo, Felipe Haroldo Aguirre, Marcelo Osvaldo Córdoba, José Mario de la Fuente Sequeire and Cristian Ariel Marmet.

A Prefecture spokesperson announced that divers had found the bodies in the kitchen of the submerged ship.

The accident, which took place in early Saturday morning, resulted in at least four people dead when the two vessels collided. 

Earlier, divers recovered the bodies of captain Gustavo Caracciolo and first officer Ramón Ciriaco Rodríguez.

The collision took place yesterday at 4am between the Argentine sand barge “Río Turbio” and the Paraguayan tugboat “Ava Payagua.” The Argentine vessel sank as a result of the accident and seven of its eight-member crew went missing.

After the distress call, the Coast Guard deployed boats, coast guards and divers to the scene to try to rescue the missing sailors.

Apparently, the Paraguayan boat was not able to complete a manoeuvre and crashed into the sand barge, which was completely loaded. One of the Argentine sailors managed to swim to the surface of the Paraná River after the collision, while his seven colleagues disappeared.

The Coast Guard issued a press release reporting that the overall length of the “Ava Payagua” vessel was 32 metres and it was carrying containers. For its part , the Argentine ship was 82,72 metres long.

Security Minister Nilda Garré “is supervising the search and rescue operation,” and she “is in contact with the rescue teams working in the area,” the statement added.

The only member of the crew who managed to escape and was rescued by two teams of divers suffered “hypothermia” and was therefore hospitalized.

A 12-member crew was travelling on board the Paraguayan vessel but only three of them, those who commanded the ship, were taken into custody and remained in in solitary confinement, Coast Guard commander Sergio Gaetán told the press.

“Those under arrest are the captain of the boat, the “baqueano” (the maritime pilot) and the helmsman and the case will be presided over by the Zárate-Campana courts,” said Gaetán, who is in charge of the Zárate area.

The officer reported that the tugboat “was withheld in order to carry out expert studies.”

Gaetán did not comment on whether there was negligence by the Paraguayan crew. However, colleagues of the seven sailors who were still missing demanded “more professionalism” from their Paraguayan counterparts.

Captain Juan Carlos Pucchi and SOMU (Maritime Workers Union) union leader Leonel Abregú said that the area where the accident took place “is highly transited and, therefore, highly trained professionals are required.”

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COSTA CONCORDIA: The blame game is not one-sided after all

Edited from Reuters (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/22/us-italy-ship-idUSTRE80D08220120122), 2011.01.22. Bolds, italics and text in brackets are mine:

The operators of the Costa Concordia faced questions over their share of the blame for the shipwreck, as divers recovered another body from the stricken liner on Sunday, bringing the known death toll to 13.

Captain Francesco Schettino is accused of steering the 290 meter-long cruise ship too close to shore while performing a maneuver known as a “salute” in which liners draw up very close to land to make a display.

Schettino, who is charged with multiple manslaughter and with abandoning ship before the evacuation of its 4,200 passengers and crew was complete, has told prosecutors he had been instructed to perform the maneuver by operator Costa Cruises.


Costa Cruises have said they were not aware of any unsafe approaches so close to the shore and have suspended Schettino, saying he was responsible for the disaster.

According to transcripts of his hearing with investigators, Schettino has disputed that claim, saying Costa had insisted on the maneuver to please passengers and attract publicity.

[I would not be surprised: that fits in Costa’s corporate culture. As Mr Foschi, Costa’s CEO, said a few days ago, the company “don’t scrimp on signalling, safety and supervision systems. But we are, of course, in the business of making dreams come true” — see https://safewaters.wordpress.com/2012/01/20/costa-concordia-safety-foundation-questions-costa-cruises-treatment-of-master/).]

“It was planned, we should have done it a week earlier but it was not possible because of bad weather,” Schettino said.

“They insisted. They [Costa] said: ‘We do tourist navigation, we have to be seen, get publicity and greet the island’.”

[1. Again, the corporate culture. He was a company man, after all. 2. My wife just noted: “now they’ve got a lot of publicity, huh?”]

Italian newspapers have also published photographs of the Costa Concordia apparently performing the “salute” close to other ports including Syracuse in Sicily and the island of Procida, which is near Naples and Schettino’s hometown of Meta di Sorrento.

Schettino also said the black box on board had been broken for two weeks and he had asked for it to be repaired, in vain.

[I wonder if that happened in the aviation industry! The VDR is required by the SOLAS Convention. Its failure is definitely a deficiency, and indicates that there might have been others.]

In the hearing, Schettino insisted he had informed Costa’s headquarters of the accident straight away, and his line of conduct had been approved by the company’s marine operations director throughout a series of phone conversations.

He acknowledged, however, not raising the alarm with the coastguard promptly and delaying the evacuation order.

“You can’t evacuate people on lifeboats and then, if the ship doesn’t sink, say it was a joke. I don’t want to create panic and have people die for nothing,” he said.

[Schettino uses the present tense for past events, as if he was back there. Was that reasoning part of his decision-making process regarding abandonment of the ship?]

Costa, a unit of Carnival Corp, the world’s largest cruise line operator, says Schettino lied to the company and his own crew about the scale of the emergency.

Documents from his hearing with a judge say he had shown “incredible carelessness” and a “total inability to manage the successive phases of the emergency.”

Taped conversations show ship’s officers told coastguards who were alerted by passengers that the vessel had only had a power cut, even after those on board donned lifevests.


Adding to the growing debate about the ship’s safety standards, Franco Gabrielli – head of Italy’s Civil Protection authority which is coordinating the rescue operations – said a number of unregistered passengers may have been on board.

[It’s not only the ship’s safety standards that are under close scrutiny, but Costa’s — and Carnival’s.]

Relatives of a missing Hungarian woman told authorities she was on the Costa Concordia with a member of the crew, but her name was not on the list of passengers, he said.

“In theory, there could be an unknown number of people who were on the ship and have not been reported missing because they were not registered,” Gabrielli said.

Of the 13 bodies found, only 8 had been identified – four French nationals, an Italian, a Hungarian, a German and a Spaniard. At least 20 people are still unaccounted for.




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Icebreaker reaches damaged Russian vessel off Antarctica

(AP)  WELLINGTON, New Zealand — A South Korean polar research ship on Monday reached a leaking Russian fishing vessel that has been stuck in the frigid waters off Antarctica for the past 10 days, New Zealand officials said.

The Sparta, with 32 crew on board, hit underwater ice on Dec. 16 that tore a 1-foot hole in its hull and caused it to list at 13 degrees. Several rescue ships had been hampered by heavy ice in the Ross Sea off the northern Antarctica coast before the icebreaker Araon finally pushed through and reached the Sparta on Monday, New Zealand Rescue Coordination Center spokeswoman Rosalie Neilson said.

The arrival was a relief to the crew, which had been desperately pumping out near-frozen sea water while awaiting rescue. At one point, more than half of those on board were forced onto life rafts.

The crew is made up of 15 Russians, 16 Indonesians and one Ukrainian.

A New Zealand air force cargo plane had previously made two parachute drops of pumps and hull patching gear that had helped keep the single-hulled Sparta from sinking.

Search and rescue coordinator Mike Roberts said the South Korean vessel was alongside Sparta transferring fuel to it to change its trim — or how it’s sitting in the water — so the bow rises clear of the sea, exposing the damaged area of hull.

Roberts said crew from both ships will attempt to weld a “doubler plate” over the hole — one external and a second inside. If successful, the repair is expected to make Sparta seaworthy, and should enable it to be escorted by Araon out of the sea ice to open water, he said in a statement. Roberts did not say how long the repair attempt was expected to take.

Weather in the area was calm, which should help the repair operation, he said.

The survival drama on the edge of the Antarctic ice shelf is taking place about 2,200 miles southeast of New Zealand.

Fonte:  http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57348379/ship-reaches-stuck-russian-fishing-vessel/

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The ship’s Captain: Master or slave?


Here is a PDF of an important article from Captain Inder Jit Singh MNI, published in the October 2011 edition of The Nautical Institute’s Seaways. I agree with what he wrote there and I believe many Masters will.

I quote him:

“Paradoxically, the ship’s Master now carries allow of the responsibility for activityon board ship, but enjoys little trust from authorities or owners, and less power. If we are really concerned about safety — or about the future of the industry — this must change.”

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Electronic navigation charts could save ships

SATNAVS are something that most of us use without a second thought. But what happens at sea?

Like drivers, maritime navigators can choose from a range of options, including GPS, paper maps, radar and ordinary radio communications. They can also use the Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) – a kind of Google Maps for ships. It integrates GPS, radar and the Automatic Identification System (AIS) – which broadcasts to ships via radio signals – and displays a vessel’s position on an electronic map in real time, along with precise readings of the local water depth.
Next year a mandate from the UN International Maritime Organization will go into effect, requiring many international commercial ships to use ECDIS. So why has it not been made compulsory sooner?

The consequences of shipping disasters can be far-reaching. As New Scientist went to press, the 236-metre container ship Rena had already leaked some 350 tonnes of oil, having crashed into the Astrolabe reef off New Zealand on 5 October. And the effects of the Exxon Valdez accident in 1989 are still being felt along the coast of Alaska.

These are not isolated incidents. Last year 211 large ships suffered “serious casualties” when they ran aground or became stranded, according to the London-based shipping news service Lloyd’s List.

ECDIS will reduce the number of ships that run aground by 38 per cent, according to a 2007 study by Rolf Skjong at risk management firm Det Norske Veritas in Høvik, Norway. “It is the best navigation aid that has come out since radar,” says Ian Rodrigues at the Australian Maritime College (AMC) in Tasmania.

The IMO evidently agrees – it wants all ships built after mid-2012 to be fitted with ECDIS. Existing ships have different compliance dates depending on whether they carry passengers or cargo, but all commercial vessels must be upgraded by mid-2018.

One reason for ECDIS’s slow adoption is that navigators are simply used to old-fashioned paper. “Maritime organisations were already busy making paper charts,” says Nick Lemon of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority. What’s more, in May 2008 detailed electronic charts were available for only 60 per cent of the world’s water. Now, around 90 per cent is digitally charted.

Autopilot technology, too, could improve safety. It hooks into the boat’s rudder and is already widely used, though not mandatory under the new rules, says Jeff Watts at the AMC. When combined with ECDIS, it can sound alarms and provide visual information to alert crew when ships enter dangerously shallow waters. But whether this could have prevented the Rena running aground is unclear – it is not known what navigation devices were in use on the ship.


Source: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21228356.400-electronic-navigation-charts-could-save-ships.html

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