121st UKMPA Conference Report


This year the conference was a one day event held on board the HQS Wellington and was attended by 39 pilots from 15 districts.

Inesrt pic. Caption : HQ Wellington    Photo: www.copyright-free-photos.org.uk

Chairman’s Report

Joe Wilson referred to the Marine Bill consultation and expressed concern that the DfT had classified the 118 pilot responses as “campaign responses” suggesting that they hadn’t been seriously considered. The major concern of the UKMPA had been the wording that proposed issuing PEC’s to “any person”. However, at a constructive meeting with the DfT last year,  they had stated that it had never been their intention to permit granting a PEC to anybody but the UKMPA would be checking the wording of the Bill carefully if and when it was ever revived.

National Occupational Standards and a pilotage qualification were still a major frustration and the UKMPA have been keeping the pressure on the revived Port Skills and Safety to try to move the process forward. The MCA are seemingly paralysed and show a lack of comprehension over how simple instigating a pilot qualification could be within the PMSC. Because of the importance of this issue a sub committee has been established which will report to Section Committee rather than the T&TC. However, the TTC will be undertaking a survey of districts with respect to their Continuous Professional Development processes.


In 2008 Clyde pilots had been in dispute with Peel Holdings. A Perth UKMPA member pilot had applied to train on the Clyde during the dispute and SC took the decision to expel him from the UKMPA. The individual concerned took the UKMPA to an employment tribunal where UNITE provided representation for the UKMPA. The case was dropped by the applicant just prior to the hearing but the process revealed that there is no expulsion clause in the UKMPA rules, hence the rule change agreed this conference.

The situation on the Clyde was on-going and the UKMPA are continuing to monitor Clydeport’s pilotage policies.


Concerns had been expressed that employed pilots were subsidising the self employed pilots with their premiums. This myth needed to be expelled because in reality the insurances were currently being required by more employed pilots than self employed pilots. Indeed, the underwriters have confirmed that as a result of employment legislation, the policy is more relevant to employed pilots.

As a result of a query from a district concerning the situation whereby a pilot may find himself on a vessel for which he is not authorised to pilot, advice has been received which is detailed at the end of this article.

Cosco Busan

The full NTSB investigation has now been released and the key findings were:

  • The pilots degraded cognitive performance due to his medication
  • Absence of a comprehensive pre-departure Master / pilot exchange and effective communication between the pilot and Master
  • The master’s ineffective oversight of the pilot’s performance and the vessel’s progress.

These findings will inevitably impact on pilotage operations over here. SC have discussed the use of drugs and pilots are warned that pilots must declare their use of any prescription drugs and our insurance cover WILL be deemed void through the misuse of any drugs and alcohol, including the failure to disclose such use if proven.

The amalgamation between T&G and AMICUS into UNITE is on-going and it has been confirmed the previous “Memorandum of Understanding” drawn up between the UKMPA and the T&G is valid within the UNITE constitution


See separate article on page.

FINANCIAL REPORT: John Pretswell (Forth)

Membership which currently stood at 493 from 45 districts. There had been a net loss of 9 members since 2008, mainly due to retirements. The accounts were healthy, and so the subscription rate would remain unchanged.

INSURANCES: Simon Campbell (Forth)

Three members had resigned from the UKMPA over the compulsory insurance requirement. Simon found this incomprehensible because the premiums areextremely competitive. Simon had given a presentation on our insurances to the EMPA congress which had followed one given by French pilot, Francois Laffoucriere, on the criminalisation of pilots. Francois had concluded his presentation with the warning that no pilot could afford to be without insurance cover in these litigious times.

Simon detailed the three policies to delegates {legal defence, DAS and personal accident (optional)} and provided examples where pilots had made successful claims on each. The most important policy is the legal defence provided by Royal Sun Alliance which is unique, having been professionally tailored to the needs of members. The wording of the policy is reviewed every year to ensure that the cover is kept up to date. The UKMPA cover is far better than any other available in Europe and many EMPA delegates had requested the details from Simon. Copies of the EMPA presentation are available to members on request.

MCA / DfT Peter Wylie (Tees)

Peter explained that all work with the MCA & DfT on National Occupational Standards (NOS) and the Port Marine Safety Code (PMSC) had gone frustratingly quiet with no progress having been made during the last 3 years.

The MCA have decided to withdraw any involvement in NOS for pilots and leave the matter in the hands of Port Skills & Safety (PSS) which is wholly owned by the British Ports Association. The UKMPA had managed to get a seat on the PSS working group but unfortunately, there was a general ignorance regarding pilots and their skills within the PSS panel since they were still considering that a “foundation” degree would be a suitable entry level qualification. The saga continues!

EMPA Dave Williamson (Liverpool)

Dave provided an overview of the latest EU Maritime Policies. One important reference to pilots was a Port State document which referred to pilotage services being of “General Public Interest”. An important factor with respect to the competition agenda.

Following rejection of the Ports Directives 1 & 2 attempts were being made to introduce PD3 but so far the MEP’s and EMPA were managing to stall the plans. A new document “Maritime Space Without Barriers” was promoting streamlining short sea shipping by extending PEC usage and “shore based pilotage” to remove the “bottlenecks” created by the need for vessels to slow down to pick up a pilot! Their definition of “short sea shipping” includes 180m containerships etc!

EMPA review and respond to all relevant documents and so far their influence was effective in keeping the issues in check.

Dave detailed the EMPA structure explaining that it was important that all UKMPA members were aware of the importance of EMPA.

“International Standards for Pilotage Organisations” had been introduced and self employed pilots in particular should consider becoming accredited to this. The EMPA congress presentations are available to members from Dave on request.

IMPA: Don Cockrill (London)

Don had attended the IMPA Congress in Bangkok and had been elected as a “Technical Advisor” to the executive. TA’s attended the same meetings with the Executive but didn’t get involved in financial issues so the UK has a member involved in the decision making process again. The main issue at present was a re-write of the pilot ladder recommendations which was progressing well through the IMO. The next IMPA congress would be in Brisbane in November 2010 and any UKMPA member can attend..

TECHNICAL & TRAINING: Brian Wilson, (Belfast)

Brian paid tribute to Gareth Rees who had been Chairman of the T&T for four years The MARNIS project was now complete and Nigel Allen was congratulated on the work & dedication that he had shown as UKMPA representative on this important project.

AZIPILOT project. This project was looking at all aspects of pod propulsion and Gareth Rees is representing the UKMPA

NAV55: See page 7.


As part of offering a professional service it is becoming increasingly important that pilots keep up to date with current trends and recommendations. In incident investigations pilots are often criticised for not fully integrating into the ship’s “bridge team”. Unfortunately traditional Bridge Resource Management (BRM) courses are designed for ships’ officers and rarely cover pilotage passages. Maritime Resource Management (MRM) is based on the aviation industry model and covers the overall management of a passage, including the pilot and engineers etc.

A pilot must use all means at his disposal to ensure safety but must also receive support from the Master, officers and, where appropriate, VTS. Matt provided several investigation examples where failure to provide support to the pilot in a developing situation had contributed to the accident. Pilots are well trained in ship handling skills but not Human Factors yet investigations reveal that the majority (over 70%) of accidents involve failure of the Human Factors. Statistically, a vessel is twice as likely to be involved in a serious accident now as compared to five years ago and the costs of accidents have also doubled. MRM is based on the aviation model where both pilot and co-pilot double check each other’s actions. Despite being introduced into the Maritime world nearly 20 years ago by the Swedish Club P&I group, only Holland has adopted MRM as an integral part of pilot training. In the absence of any MRM courses being offered in the UK, the Liverpool pilots have created a course, accredited by the Swedish Club, specifically tailored for pilots. Each course is based on discussions around various scenarios and the analysis of incidents. Pilots are encouraged to be open about their perceptions of bridge teams and their role within it and the Cosco Busan case has provided much material for discussion.

The Swedish Club course is run over 4 days but the Liverpool pilots have found that 2 days is adequate. Courses are either run at Liverpool or at any external location.

Further details can be obtained from Matt Easton at: admin@liverpoolpilots.com

The modules for the course are available on the Swedish Club’s website:



Following the HA’s taking over rrsponsibility for aothorising pilots following the 1987 Pilotage Act, many districts retained the authorisation structure and wording from the Trinity House authorisations. In some areas this included a clause stating that the authorisation limits could be overruled if a pilot of the appropriate grade wasn’t available. This meant that if a pilot boarded, say a Class 4 vessel and discovered that, as a result of its draft, the vessel was in fact a Class 3 vessel then his authorisation would cover him.  Following a recent case whereby a pilot, finding himself in such a position, refused to pilot the vessel, the UKMPA has sought a legal opinion on this historical anomaly and the following are extracts from the response:

There has never been a test-case on the point, but it would be very difficult to defend any pilot who willingly undertakes pilotage beyond the limits of his authorisation.

The leading relevant case is the Sea-Empress, where of course there was compliance with the regulated limits, but the rationale of the observation that the highest possible standards need to be observed was that the Milford Haven rules were themselves inadequate at the time.

….A pilot who undertakes the pilotage of a ship the size of which is beyond the limits of his authorisation is not only not authorised for that ship (and is therefore acting unlawfully) : but , in relation to that ship , is not truly authorised at all. acting unlawfully) : but , in relation to that ship , is not truly authorised at all.

It follows, therefore, that the statutory protection provided by Section 22 of the Pilotage Act (the £1,000 limit) would not apply in such a case; because the protection  benefits only an “authorised pilot”.

In consequence, a pilot who pilots a ship whose size is greater than the regulated limits of his authorisation forfeits the statutory protection and exposes himself to liability for unlimited (and probably enormous) civil damages.

The message therefore is perfectly clear and with modern communications there is no excuse for the draft to be incorrectly declared prior to pilot boarding especially since such errors are inevirably caused by laziness on behalf of the agent to check with the Captain prior to making the pilot booking. Let him take the blame!!


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