Chairman’s Report: John Pearn


Looking back, 2016 was a year of note. Despite all the political drama the one thing I will sadly remember it for is the tragic loss of London Pilot, Gordon Coates on October 5th whilst boarding the vessel Sunni, in the River Thames off Gravesend. The MAIB is currently investigating the incident. Whatever the outcome of the report, we owe it to ourselves, and also no less importantly to our families, to act on the lessons learnt.

Ironically this accident took place midway through the IMPA pilot ladder safety survey. The subsequent survey report when forwarded to IMO highlighted the fact that the issue of pilot ladder compliance is not about statistics but more importantly about pilot Safety. The results of the survey have shown that there has been very little improvement on levels of compliance throughout the industry. UK pilots provided the second highest number of returns, just behind France. The volume of responses provides a great momentum to IMPA’s message at IMO.

We all need to re-double our efforts and vigilance. Reporting issues of non-compliance and where necessary refusing to board vessels with unsafe boarding arrangements. Sometimes a quiet word with the captain is not sufficient, as was recently demonstrated by a coastal vessel that secured his ladder by using chains around the steps. He had assured a pilot on the Forth that he would stop this practice, yet the vessel then turned up on the Tees with exactly the same arrangement. A pilot on the Medway also had a very lucky escape when the pilot boat caught the ladder and both side ropes parted; fortunately he had not yet stepped onto the ladder. Ironically, its illegally placed tripping line was still attached to the bottom step, so they were able to retrieve
the ladder.Please do not hesitate to report deficient ladders to the MCA. I would also ask that you copy the UKMPA into any reports as this allows us to raise the issues with MCA and most importantly warn the pilots in the vessels next port.

The 2016 Conference in Cowes was a tremendous success, with over 200 participants. The second day, organized by the Technical Committee members Nick Lee (London) and Gareth Wilson (Tees), focused on dealing with casualties, with Scott Birrell (Liverpool) gallantly volunteering to be our MOB volunteer. The day culminated in a demonstration on how to deal with a casualty.

Looking forward, the UKMPA,
in partnership with Saviour Safety, has now developed an Immediate Emergency Care Course. Two ports, the Tees and Bristol, have already arranged courses, with a number of other ports showing interest. Nick Lee and Gareth Wilson are making a presentation to the UKHMA spring seminar about the Immediate Emergency Care Course, which will hopefully generate more interest as well as raising the profile of the safety issues which pilots face on a daily basis.

The UKMPA Section Committee and Technical Committee continue to work hard on your behalf. Following a successful trial of the Pilot Certificate on the Tees last year we are continuing to push for its introduction to ensure that national occupational standards are applied throughout the UK.
In parallel with this, some ports are attempting to access government funds by developing a Pilot Trailblazer Apprenticeship Scheme. The UKMPA is working closely with Port Skills and Safety to ensure that standards are upheld and comply with National Occupational Standards.

Preparations are now fully under way for this year’s UKMPA Conference which will be held in Middlesbrough on the 20th-21st September. I hope as many of you as possible are able to attend.

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