The sentiments expressed in this article taken from today SHIPPING CLIPPINGS,Â apply equally to New Zealand.
Maritime pilotage is the core profession within UK ports and coastal waters ensuring the 24/7/365 safety and efficiencyÂ of shipping movements. 95% of UK trade is done by sea transport through UK ports, with UK Maritime PilotsÂ responsible for the conductÂ of navigation of the majorityÂ of vessels within local portÂ areas as per the portâ€™sÂ regulations.
The quick thinking, decisionsÂ and actions of theÂ Southampton port pilot onÂ board HOEGH OSAKA withÂ the shipâ€™s Captain and hisÂ bridge team resulted notÂ only in the prevention of aÂ major catastrophic event for the ship but most importantly, saving the lives of the 25 crew members. The decision alsoÂ ensured the continuing unimpeded operation of one of the UKâ€™s major ports and protected the local marineÂ environment from potential significant pollution had the fuel tanks been inundated.
The pilot having grounded the ship intentionally on the Bramble Bank to prevent further deterioration of the shipâ€™s lifeÂ threatening list, maintained his role of having conduct of the ship and then played a major part in the coordination ofÂ the crewâ€™s rescue by the emergency services. Having stayed on board accompanying the master and a senior shipâ€™s
officer after all others had been evacuated, further movement of the ship was detected and the pilot subsequentlyÂ instructed the remaining three to be evacuated by helicopter.
All this was possible as a result of the extensive high quality training that UK maritime pilots are required to undertakeÂ coupled with significant local knowledge and experience gained through years of professional practice. Not only in shipÂ handling but in all the other complex aspects of ship operations directly and indirectly related to manoeuvring,
navigation and cargo transport.
â€œThe sound of safety is silenceâ€ yet in some quarters of the UK ports industry there is a misconception that becauseÂ everything is going right then there must be no need to operate pilotage services at such high levels of expertise andÂ training. This conveniently overlooks that it is exactly because of the significant investment in pilotage operations that
on a day to day basis UK pilots safely conduct thousands of ship movements without high profile incident, dealing withÂ the complexities as they arrive.
The manner in which the Hoegh Osaka situation as it evolved was handled by her pilot is testament to the rewardsÂ that are inevitably reaped from proper investment in the training and operation of port pilotage services and theÂ professionalism and dedication of UK pilots.