Chairman’s Report: Don Cockrill

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Don Cockrill

During my tenure as Chairman of this association, I have been privileged to meet and work with some very notable and influential pilots. One such was Captain Michael Watson, president of the American Pilots’ Association and immediate past president of IMPA. It was thus with great sadness that we learned of Michael’s sudden passing at the end of July. His contribution in promoting and protecting our profession both within the USA but also globally within the IMO where he was highly respected was significant and will be long remembered. Our sincerest condolences go out to his family, friends and colleagues for the loss of one of our profession’s great characters.

The legal status of a compulsory pilot is clearly defined under the Merchant Shipping Acts and the 1987 Pilotage Act, further confirmed by the judgements made in the Cavendish and Esso Bernica cases. It is then of great concern that, in their efforts to improve the effectiveness of Bridge Teams on board their ships, one particular major cruise line is attempting to ride rough-shod over national legislation by attempting to downgrade the role of a compulsory pilot to one of an adviser to the bridge team, regardless of the pilot’s statutory status and responsibilities. In the UK a pilot is required in law to conduct the navigation of the vessel whist in the defined pilotage area waters. Many other nations have similar legislation. But there has been at least one case in recent months within a European state where the Pilot disembarked a famous cruise liner and the port call aborted simply because the Master refused to hand the conduct of the ship’s navigation over to the pilot, insisting instead on compliance with the company’s procedures. The recently published IMPA notice 879, which all UKMPA members should have received by email, refers and gives more detail. If you experience any similar problems on board ships operating this system, in addition to maintaining your lawful obligatory role on board, please let me know the circumstances so that we can take appropriate action.

It was with great pleasure that we learned the new Secretary General of the IMO to succeed Mr. Sekimizu will be Mr. Lim Ki-Tack of South Korea. Mr. Lim is head of the Port of Busan and will take over as Secretary General in January 2016.

The matter of the alleged maladministration of pilotage in a UK Trust Port reported in the last issue of The Pilot continues. There have now been a number of large ship transits (tankers and passenger ships) into and out of the port reportedly conducted by clearly undertrained and (from an A960/PMSC perspective) dubiously authorised pilots, both from within the CHA’s own employees and also apparently ‘parachuted in’ as required from another distant port. We now understand that a file has been submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions by an unknown party identifying a number of aspects of the operation that are allegedly in clear criminal breach of aspects of maritime and public authority legislation.

Sub-standard pilot ladders and combination arrangements continue to challenge us all far too frequently. Despite the updated regulatory requirements, it seems that Flag and Port State inspectors as well as Class surveyors are still in some cases failing to inspect equipment properly. Please remember that all pilot ladder deficiencies should be reported to the CHA and the MCA. It is also a legal requirement to report all personal accidents involving pilot boarding arrangements to the MAIB. The IMPA pilot ladder survey will be implemented in the coming months. I encourage all of you to participate as much as possible. Details will of course be promulgated when available through the usual channels (email, web site, Twitter and Linked-in).

Meanwhile wherever you are safe sailing and “happy landings”.


At the 2015 UKMPA Conference, Don Cockrill stood down as Chairman and John Pearn (Milford Haven) was elected as the new Chairman. JCB

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