UK Pilotage

Liz McMahon writing in LLOYDS LIST Friday 13 July 2012
THE UK Transport Select Committee has called on the shipping industry to submit written evidence on issues affecting marine pilotage.
The deadline for submissions is September 2012. Lloyd’s List understands that the committee inquiry into this area is the result of industry lobbying.
UK Maritime Pilots Association chairman Don Cockerill said that while the body had not instigated the inquiry, it would seize the opportunity to raise long-term issues. The MPA will call for the Port Safety Code to become obligatory and effectively regulated.
Mr Cockerill said that the code is open to interpretation and, while there are many very good port operations, others are more questionable. The MPA will also argue against provision in the Marine Navigation Bill 2008 relating to pilotage exemption certificates.
Only masters or chief officers can obtain the certificates, which allow vessels to operate in and out of a port without needing a pilot.
Under the new Bill this exemption could be extended to more junior officers, which Mr Cockerill calls a “flawed proposal”.
“The holder needs to have the same level of knowledge and expertise as would be applicable to the pilot,” he said. “Pilotage is a risk-mitigation measure and therefore the alternative must be the same.”
He also said that the MPA would raise the issue of training and qualifications, as there is no national qualification and the underlying international structure is an implied obligation, not a statutory requirement. Better regulation for ships’ pilots has been a focus for the International Group of P&I Clubs for some time.
Clubs have appealed to the International Maritime Organization to follow up on guidelines issued eight years ago for countries to ensure training and monitoring for pilots.
In 2005, the IG began a major study of the problem by compiling data on serious accidents at least partly attributable to pilot error that resulted in claims of at least $100,000.
Initially for incidents in the period 1999-2003, the study was recently extended with data up to 2007.
Over the full nine-year period, the US had easily the highest number of incidents with 63, ahead of second-placed China with 22, followed by Brazil, Japan, Argentina and Australia.

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