Regional Committee News


News from Scotland (Region 4)


Recent years have seen an increase in large private yachts visiting the Clyde and West Coast of Scotland. It is an area renowned for some excellent cruising and some of the most beautiful scenery in the UK – if and when the weather allows. Most of our berths are commercial berths and docks but we do have a couple of usable berths in Glasgow, and there is a berth in Greenock’s James Watt Dock marina facility for private yachts. Our pilotage regulations require pilots for vessels over 120m in the outer district, which takes in the main Firth of Clyde, and over 60m in the inner district, which takes in the river to Greenock and Glasgow. Larger private yachts therefore require pilots.

Regular visits by larger yachts commenced two years ago with the arrival of one of the largest private yachts in the world. The 161m long vessel Eclipse visited the Upper Clyde anchorages before taking her owner for a ten day cruise of the West coast and visiting various distilleries. She required a pilot four times during her passages around the outer Clyde area. For one of these pilotage acts I was allocated to the vessel from Rothesay Bay anchorage to out to sea. As our pilot cutter was engaged elsewhere the vessel arranged to pick me up in its tender at Inverkip marina – a far cry from the pilot boats we are used to on the Clyde! I was seated in a large leather reclining armchair, there was a 50″ TV on the bulkhead and 1″ deep carpet throughout and we cruised out to Eclipse at 30 knots. Once on board the vessel I was whisked quickly to the bridge whilst we waited for the owner and his guests to return to the vessel before proceeding outbound from Rothesay Bay.

In 2016 the 97m long Eos visited Greenock, requiring pilotage services, and earlier this year the 66m long Lady M required the services of a Clyde pilot three times as she visited Greenock and then Glasgow. Her owner and his family boarded the vessel in Glasgow and having spent a couple of days visiting the city
and museums she headed back downriver to the Outer Clyde area and Loch Fyne. The vessel then cruised further on down the West coast of the UK.

The latest visitor was the 78m long Amaryllis, which required the services of a Clyde pilot for berthing and departing at the James Watt Dock marina facility in Greenock. This vessel had previously spent a week cruising the South coast of England but was drawn to Scotland by a favourable weather forecast and scenic cruising areas. I was allocated to the pilotage for the vessel as she departed James Watt Dock for Loch Fyne and Inverary. Once I was on board there was a short delay as we waited for the guests to be collected from Glasgow airport, but as soon as all were on board we quickly sailed and moved quietly out of the dock and out of the river. Most of these vessels are very manoeuvrable even with their large windage. Amaryllis is equipped with twin propellers, twin rudders, a bow thruster and an azimuth stern thruster. Having made sure we departed without touching the dock walls it is important for the pilot boat coxswain to come alongside very gently without touching the vessel’s hull – black marks from the pilot boat rubbing strakes are not desirable on the pristine hulls of these yachts. To this end the yacht’s crew are always well prepared with large fenders at the ready! Amaryllis came back to James Watt Dock a few days later to disembark her guests after a West coast cruise.

yacht 2

These jobs are very different from our normal pilotage work on tankers, bulkers, coasters, container ships and cruise ships. The bridge equipment is all very familiar from commercial vessels, but it is certainly fitted to a much higher standard. It makes for a nice change to pilot these vessels and it is nice to see how the ‘other half’ live occasionally… rumour has it that Amaryllis can be chartered for $1,000,000 per week – certainly beyond the means of a Clyde pilot!                                      Matt Hill


News from the West of England (Region 6)


Shipping traffic volumes in the Bristol Channel over the last twelve months have not dropped, indeed overall this year may well be as good as the last. Certainly, pilot acts seem stable. Trade in Bristol, as ever, still features large volumes of car trade, and with the exception of coal the rest of the trade in bulk, petroleum products and animal feed appears stable. We are starting to see a new generation of car vessels built for the new Panama Canal. Generally, these ships are 199m long and up to 38m beam.

With the final green light being given to the new Hinkley Point C power station on the Somerset coast, a new trade has been developing over the last year. Huge infrastructure ground works have commenced both at Hinkley and in Avonmouth docks, where contractors are based. A new jetty is being built out into the channel at Hinkley for the import of aggregates and other construction materials. Transhipment from Bristol to Hinkley is envisaged, and the pier should be completed sometime next year. The port of Avonmouth and the Bristol Channel are busy with fast launches, tugs and jack-up barges involved in the project.

This summer sees an end of an era in the Channel. Sharpness & Gloucester pilot Bill Payne and John Freegard of Bristol (and previously Southampton), retired. I believe they were the last serving pilots who were pilot apprentices on the Bristol boat in the early 1970s. Pilot apprentices generally became ‘uncert’ third mates and had to achieve a Mate’s certificate FG and then be invited back before the age of 40, having never worked ashore. Both Bill and John had careers which took them worldwide until settling into home trade work. Bill acted as Master with Bowker & King, ARC and finally the Balmoral. He commenced his training at Sharpness in January 1999, being authorised as a Bristol Channel pilot (Sharpness) on the 1st April 1999. He retired on the 30th June 2017.

John’s path was slightly different. Essentially, he too returned to the Bristol Channel after serving eight years as a pilot in Southampton. He was authorised as a Bristol Channel Pilot (Bristol ports) on the
1st February 1997, and retired on the 31st August 2017 after a long and happy career.We wish them both a long and happy and fulfilling retirement.

As a point of interest, the old authorisations were for the Bristol Channel, further qualified for pilot work at, for example Bristol Channel to Cardiff or Bristol to Sharpness. It is interesting to note that the pilot apprentice system has been reintroduced by ABP in SE Wales and their first ‘new’ apprentice authorised on the 1st July 2017 is Kym Hughes from Barry. We wish him well in his new career. Best wishes, fair weather and safe trips to all from the west.    Tony Anderton


News from South Wales (Region 6)


Six vessels and over 5000 passengers will use the port facilities and services provided by ABP South Wales between May and October 2017.

Matthew Kennerley, Director, ABP South Wales, said: ‘This increase in cruise calls is the result of
considerable marketing activity between ABP, Cruise Wales and the respective local Councils to promote the various attractions for day visitors on cruise lines in the immediate hinterland of the South Wales ports.’There is significant potential to increase the number of cruise holidays that embark in South Wales to provide greater accessibility and ease for passengers from Wales, the South-West and the Midlands. We will continue to work with our partners to promote our three cruise ports and the wider South Wales region.’

Four of the vessels will visit the ports for day calls. Passengers will disembark for the day to explore South Wales. The other two vessels give local passengers the chance to board cruises to locations that include, Spain, Portugal, France, and the Isles of Scilly. This is the first time that passengers have been given an opportunity to start their cruises at Cardiff and Newport, as a result of the start of new cruise routes by Cruise and Maritime (CMV). CMV have already announced six further cruise calls for 2018 that
will allow passengers to embark on cruises from Cardiff for destinations to include Iceland, France, and the Isles of Scilly.

Media Permission by Gareth Lewis Corporate Communications Manager Associated British Ports


A history of the Port of Felixstowe (Region 2)

Felix 67

Founded by Colonel George Tomline in 1875, the Port of Felixstowe began life as the Felixstowe Railway and Pier Company. The Port survived two World Wars and a number of changes of ownership, and in 1966 work began on the New South Quay. Opening on the 1st July 1967, and later renamed Landguard Container Terminal, it was the UK’s first purpose-built container terminal. This development helped establish Felixstowe as the UK’s largest container port. Its first dedicated container terminal, originally known as the New South Quay, opened with just 500ft (152m) of quay and a single Paceco Vickers portainer crane.

The operation today bears no real resemblance to those early years. The scale and level of technical innovation have grown beyond recognition. But not everything has changed. In 1967 Felixstowe was developed because of its proximity to the main shipping lanes and the major ports of Northern Europe.
That remains a key differentiator. But since then its position has been improved by the development of
road and rail links.

Change has been a constant at Felixstowe over the last 50 years. The second phase of Landguard Terminal was completed in the 1970s, followed by Dooley, Walton and Trinity Terminal, the UK’s first post-panamax facility, which was built in phases through the 1980s and 1990s, with the final phase completed in 2004. Since then growth has continued. The most recent phase of development, Berths 8 & 9, was opened in 2011 and was extended in 2015. The creation of the newest terminal involved the reclamation of additional land from the River Orwell but also included the site of the New South Quay, bringing the story full-circle and ensuring that the largest container ships in the world are handled where the very first container ships visited 50 years ago. The 50th anniversary of that major event will be celebrated throughout 2017.

Continual investment over the last 50 years has ensured that the Port of Felixstowe has maintained its position as the clear market leader. Today, the port handles the world’s largest container ships and boasts nine berths providing over 3,000 metres of deep-water container quay serviced by 33 ship-to-shore gantry cranes.  Paul Davey

Felix 2

Port of Felixstowe: Landguard and Trinity berths

News from Felixstowe (Region 2)

22ND JUNE 2017: The world’s largest container ship, the 21,413 TEU OOCL Hong Kong, has made its maiden call at Hutchison Ports Port of Felixstowe. The call represented a double celebration it also marked the return of OOCL to the UK’s largest container port after a 17 year absence.

Commenting on the two events, Clemence Cheng, Chief Executive Officer of the Port of Felixstowe and Managing Director of Hutchison Ports Europe, said: “The OOCL Hong Kong is the latest in a line of mega vessels to call at the Port of Felixstowe. The port’s location close to the main shipping lanes and the ports of Northern Europe, combined with a unique combination of road and rail connections, makes it the first choice for the latest generation of giant container ships. Our relationship with OOCL goes back 40 years and we are delighted to welcome them back to the Port of Felixstowe as part of the Ocean  Alliance. We are honoured to have been chosen as the main UK hub for the Ocean Alliance and look forward to continuing to work with OOCL and the other alliance partners to provide the best possible service to UK importers and exporters.”

Richard Hew, Managing Director of OOCL, added: “We are very delighted by the warm welcome that the OOCL Hong Kong received from the Port of Felixstowe community. We truly look forward to working more closely with our customers, business partnersand with the port community in developing our synergies or growth.”

The 210,890 gross tonne vessel was built at Samsung Heavy Industries’ (SHI) shipyard in Geoje, South Korea. Measuring 400 metres in length and with a width of 58.8 metres, the OOCL Hong Kong serves the Asia-Europe trade lane as part of OOCL’s LL1 service. The Ocean Alliance consists of OOCL, CMA CGM, Cosco Shipping and Evergreen Line.



This year has seen retirements and has been busy recruiting new pilots to replace retirees. With container Lines adjusting partnerships and alliances the port has seen an increase in the number of Ultra Large container ships, including a call from the MOL Triumph, the first 20,000-plus teu container ship. She was the largest for many weeks, until Mr Moeller’s second-generation triple-E sailed in on her maiden voyage. New trade has also prompted a new tug operator to set up on the Solent: Kotug/Smit brought three tugs into port.


Photo: Wikipedia

Families flocked to see the Argentine Navy sail training ship ARA Libertad when she visited the Port of Southampton for four days. She was open to the public for two days and during that time many local families took advantage of the chance to see the vessel which set the world speed record for a sailing ship crossing the North Atlantic. Ambassador Carlos Sersale di Cerisano said, ‘The Frigate Libertad
is both our travelling Ambassador and a symbol. The visit marks another step towards reconnecting Argentina with the rest of the world, prioritising mature relationships with all countries. At every port she calls into, the frigate draws thousands of visitors, including members of the Argentine community living abroad, local figures and authorities. The Libertad provides a space to celebrate the artistic, cultural, commercial, sporting, scientific and gastronomic treasures that our country has to offer.

Press release from Southampton (Region 1)
Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling MP was given an insight into the workings of the UK’s number one port for exports when he visited the Port of Southampton this morning. The Minister saw first-hand operations at the UK’s largest vehicle handling port, where the volume of vehicles handled is set to grow to 950,000 this year. He viewed the port’s two new vehicle handling facilities currently under construction in Southampton and then saw part of a £50m investment in handling UK vehicle exports.

Every year the Port of Southampton handles £40 billion worth of exports and in 2017 will welcome 1.9 million passengers joining cruise ships for destinations across the globe. Mr Grayling said, ‘I am delighted to visit the Port of Southampton and see for myself the impressive investment going into it. Ports like Southampton are crucial to the long-term growth of our economy as we work to expand international trade over the next few years. The Government is continually investing in road and rail connections to help improve the logistics at ports across the UK. This will continue to be a key priority this year as we look forward to September’s London International Shipping Week, where we will display the best of the UK’s maritime sector.’ 

Director Alastair Welch, welcoming the Transport Secretary, said: ‘It is a great opportunity to demonstrate to the Secretary of State the vital role the Port of Southampton plays in the UK economy, offering access to international markets for UK businesses and manufacturers.On the quayside in Southampton the Minister was able to see British manufactured goods arriving by train and being loaded onto ships ready for export all over the world. We also highlighted ABP’s ongoing commitment to investing in our 21 ports around Britain, and to working with our customers and the Government to help make sure trade and exports can continue to grow in the years ahead.’ (Media permissions from Gareth Lewis Corporate Communication Manager Associated British Ports)



We have recruited three new pilots, Jonathan Mills and Ian Travis returning from other pastures. The port is busy with various trades, cars being the busiest. The LNG terminal is exporting LNG, having its first import of North American Shale gas this summer.




At Dover, construction and redevelopment of the old Hover port has started and is progressing well. The plan is for two berths capable of handling container ships and increasing the storage area.




London is busy across all trade sectors, and volumes are currently on track to match last year’s total. The third berth at the new port of London Gateway opened at the beginning of the year and it picked up two China trades as a result of a re-shuffling of the Alliances. Recruitment is twelve new pilots this year, in addition to the twelve recruited last year. Among several retirements this year was the notable one of John Clandillion-Baker, affectionately known as JCB. John is hanging up his Sea Safe coat for the final time after over twenty years of piloting on the Thames.        Hywel Pugh
Trade in 2016 reached the highest this decade, rising 10 percent to top 50 million tonnes for the first time since 2008. This strong performance reflects continued growth at terminals along the Thames. The volumes of oil, containers and building materials all rose markedly. Prior to 2016, port throughput had been increasing at between two to three percent, year-on-year. PLA chief executive, Robin Mortimer, said: ‘Our long term Vision is for 60 to 80 million tonnes of cargo to be traded every year through the Port of London – more than at any time in the Thames’ history. Passing 50 million tonnes in 2016 is a major milestone towards this goal.’

The tonnage of cargo handled at terminals on the Thames last year was 50.4 million tonnes, five million tonnes (or 11%) up on 2015. Growth was principally in oil trades, which rose by 22% from 10.9 million tonnes in 2015 to 13.3 million tonnes in 2016. Containers and trailers (unitised traffic) was up 7% to 18 million tonnes; aggregates and cement increased again from 10.7 million tonnes (16%) up to 12.4 million tonnes. Cereal volumes also increased by 15% to one million tonnes.

2016 saw the first cargoes delivered to the Thames Oil Port, the former Coryton oil refinery site now redeveloped as a fuel terminal. At the Port of Tilbury, a new chilled store for NFT was opened and the acquisition of land for port expansion was completed. DP World London Gateway handled increasing numbers of ultra large container ships – operating between Asia and Europe – benefiting from its operational resilience in bad weather, as well as securing additional central and south American and Oceania services. Testing of facilities on Berth Three at this deep-sea port also started at the end of 2016. (Media release by Martin Garside, Port of London Authority)



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