127th Annual Conference: Mike Robarts with Photos: JCB


Members gathered on the 4th November for the 127th Annual Conference on board HQS Wellington in London. This was Don Cockrill’s final chairing of the Association’s conference; he has now handed over to John Pearn, who has been Vice Chair for several years. Association business included reports from the Chairman, EMPA Vice President Mike Morris, Treasurer Bob Watt and Nick Lee Chairman of the Technical and Training Committee. 

Lord Tony Berkeley, our President, gave his customary personal insights on parliamentary current affairs. Voting by MPs and Lords now takes a long time because there are many more members than there used to be in the upper chamber. He explained economic difficulties and the position faced by ports as a result of the loss of some heavy industry and the increased competition between ports, especially in the container sector as capacity continues to outstrip demand. The EU low sulphur regulations are starting to bite, as are actions by operators in their attempts to cut costs. He congratulated Don Cockrill for his work as Chairman over the past five years and for trying to bring the Association closer to the industry.


Don Cockrill analysed the Association’s activities, how it relates to other organisations and also how it increases its own efficient administration. Don talked about the continued relationships and work with the Department of Transport on Marine Pilotage and also a new relationship with the UK Major Ports Group and British Ports Association on their marine pilotage forum. Both of these are important to the work we do as an Association. Members of Section Committee, as well as other Association members, have attended industry seminars, such as London international Shipping Week and Autonomous Shipping. The Association continues to have representation at Port Skills and Safety and continues its review of the marine pilots’ certificate, MCA steering groups (where we are involved in the Port Marine Safety Code), the VTS steering group and Safety of Navigation. The Association’s other projects are the North UK P&I Club guidance on the Master/Pilot exchange, the British Tug Association with their towage operations guide, and a presentation to insurers at Lloyds. With the Hoegh Osaka incident the Association has dealt with media, including a successful radio interview and numerous statements used by the media.


Don Cockrill gives his presentation with L-R: John Pearn, Peter Lightfoot & Mike Morris

Don continued to show how the Association had reviewed its operations in efforts to become more efficient to the membership, which included requesting local members to attend meetings to keep costs more manageable. Discussions with Unite are ongoing to improve members’ representation with local offices, especially where there have been industrial issues at local ports. Don urges those who are local secretaries to promulgate information to local members in a speedy manner and also where necessary to provide feedback to the Section Committee, such as good ideas and initiatives on operations at local ports. The Association is represented on Twitter, its exchange of photographs of bad pilots proving useful to members.

Bob Watt, our Treasurer, briefed on insurances. A number of claims are currently being processed from members who have suffered personal injuries. He said Circle Insurance brokers were negotiating with underwriters regarding insurance premiums. Bob Watt interrupted his presentation to invite the Shipping Minister to speak to delegates. Bob reiterated to members the quality of the service they received from insurance policies, how premiums were likely to increase and also how emergency procedures work.

Shipping Minister Robert Goodwill MP addressed delegates. He stated the importance of maritime trade to UK plc and how proud he is to be part of a historic trust that looks after M.V Coronia, one of the little ships involved in the Dunkirk evacuation, reminding us all of the importance of seafarers. He outlined the role of Government and some changes ahead, including proposals for revamping the MCA. He made delegates conscious of his knowledge of investments into maritime training, such as the new maritime training centre at the Wirral, apprenticeships in ports and the work the Association is doing on the marine pilots’ certificate. He further congratulated the Association over the North P&I Club, the guide on theMaster/Pilot exchange information, and the review of the Port Marine Safety Code. A number of questions to him from delegates centred on proposed EU ports regulation.

Peter Lightfoot, Association Secretary, spoke about a meeting the Association held at members’ local ports and about Association circulars and those members of Section Committee up for re-election. There was explanation of nominations for Alternates and Trustees
of the Pilots’ National Pension Fund.

Bob Watt, Treasurer, talked about Association finances and the impact of reorganisation of EMPA on membership fees. This, as Bob put it bluntly, means that members have to sacrifice a pint of beer a month, membership fees increasing by £4 per month (members should remember that these professional membership fees are allowed tax relief by the HMRC).

Nick Lee, Chairman of the Technical and Training Committee, introduced the operation of his committee. The T&TC has been involved in a number of projects through the year, such as the Port Marine Safety Code – Guide to Good Practice following the Apollo accident,
the Marine Pilots’ Certificate and lifejackets not righting the casualty. The T&TC are making investigations into Pilot boat crew training and have approached both RYA and RNLI. Chris Hoy of the T&TC is investigating the requirements for revalidating certificates of competency under the Manila amendments, information to be shared with members.

Concluding this AGM was a lengthy debate on the relationship of the Association with Unite, whose representative at the AGM was Jane Jeffrey.

Members can read the full transcript of the conference proceedings of day one, because it was recorded, by logging into the UKMPA website members’ access
and going to the conference section on the menu bar.

That evening delegates attended a reception and tour at Lloyds of London. John Clandillion-Baker has provided an article on the event.


New Chairman John Pearn takes over from Don Cockrill

On the second day conference delegates attended a set of educational seminars on a number of topics, which included presentations by Phillip Roche of Norton Rose who talked about post incident legal issues following an accident, and by Steve Clinch Chief Inspector at the MAIB who discussed the effectiveness and purpose of the MAIB and its inspectors, especially following a recent case which tested the fundamental principles of the MAIB. Jeremy Smart of the MCA talked about the enforcement unit he leads which has the task of ensuring compliance with safety and pollution legislation. Alasdair Mackenzie spoke about his role in parliamentary outreach, educating the public what Parliament is about and how lobbying works in the case of the Association and increased regulation. Richard Steele of the Port Skills and Safety organisation updated us on the marine
pilots’ certificate, for which the Association is part of working group. Phil Cowing and Martin Gough from Associated British Ports discussed the newly implemented ABP apprentice pilot training programme. Gareth Wilson from Tees Bay Pilots explained the work of the Technical and Training Committee is doing about head protection for pilots.

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