Chairman’s Report: John Pearn


I was once asked by a previous Chairman of the UKMPA, whilst we were tackling a particularly difficult and controversial issue, ‘Why do we serve on Section Committee?’ My response was that when I was experiencing difficult circumstances, many pilots at the time, who were unknown to me, had burnt the midnight oil working hard to protect not only my interests but also those of the profession. In the following years I have had the pleasure of meeting many of those gentlemen and I consider it both an honour and privilege to follow in their footsteps as I assume the conduct of this fine organization from Don Cockrill.

I have worked closely with Don for over ten years now on Section Committee and can only marvel
at the commitment and dedication he has shown to protecting pilots’ interests. Even though he is easing his way slowly into retirement we have managed to persuade him (or rather managed to persuade Wendy) to take on the role of Secretary General, which will allow us to continue to benefit from his experience for the coming few years. Whilst we have managed to keep hold of Don, sadly Martin Chatterton could not resist the call of retirement and the opportunity to leave behind his maritime piloting skills to develop his aviation piloting skills. We wish him a long and prosperous retirement with many safe landings.

Having now taken the captain’s armband from Don, I am very aware that pilotage is not a solo effort but it is very much a team game. On board a ship you are working with the bridge team and are responsible for coordinating the services within your port to bring the ship successfully alongside. Similarly being Chairman of the UKMPA is not a one-man role. The UKMPA has a very dedicated team that benefits from the work of a great many people. We have an excellent lineup on Section Committee that generously gives their time to attend meetings on behalf of the association and work tirelessly at home researching issues and sharing advice. It is rare that I will have to wait any great length of time for a response to a question, with work being the most common vindicating factor. We are also most fortunate to have an outstanding Technical and Training Committee led by Nick Lee, for anyone who attended conference will no doubt have been most impressed by the quality of both his and Gareth Wilson’s presentations. Those of us who are members of the PNPF are also well served by pilots who act as trustees and alternative trustees to ensure our security long after we have berthed our last ship.

Moving onto the coaching staff. The UKMPA also profits from very close relationships with EMPA and IMPA. Pressures on pilotage often emanate from the corridors of Brussels or other quarters of the shipping world. Moreover, it is very rare that local issues are unique and we frequently benefit from the advice of other pilots worldwide, who may have experienced similar problems in their ports. Additionally the UKMPA and its members have many friends outside the profession, none more so than Drew Smith and Ken Pound. Their advice and expertise lies in insurance as well as other maritime matters
well beyond the scope of the insurance policies they provide.

The UKMPA has one friend in particular, who has looked after our needs longer than most, our President, Lord Tony Berkeley. He has provided wise counsel to many past chairmen and continues to do so. He is certainly no sleeping Lord. He is deeply interested in our affairs, and provides an astute perspective based on considerable expertise as a past harbour commissioner and as having many years engaged in transport issues in the House of Lords and in Europe. He is most generous with his time, advice and not least importantly his contacts list. We also continue to be assisted generously by many ex-pilots who have either retired or have left the profession and moved on to other parts of the maritime world. Over the years the UKMPA has benefited greatly from these contacts who often, absent mindedly, forget to set the clock ticking when we approach them for advice.

As with all great teams, we would be nowhere without a secure club base. We would not be doing our job successfully if we did not perform as you wanted us to. If there are issues that you feel we need to address or aspects that cause you concern please do not hesitate to let us know. You do not need to wait for conference, our contact details are opposite and we are most happy to hear from you at any time.

For fear of stretching this sporting metaphor too far: I couldn’t do this job if I could not get to the ground. It is my colleagues at Milford Haven who allow me the time to do this job, often swapping turns at short notice to allow me to attend meetings, inconveniencing both themselves and their families.

It just remains for me to wish you all a prosperous and safe 2016.

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