Editorial April 2012: Passage Meanderings

Within this issue there are many references to passage planning in pilotage waters. In the adjacent article, UKMPA Chairman, Don Cockrill details pilotage passage planning whilst within other articles the references to the importance of planning a passage are emphasised by both the MAIB and the P&I Clubs.

Back in the last century when the Master / Pilot exchange and pilotage passage plans were rising up the agenda I recall being in the Ready Room preparing a passage plan for a large containership when one of the senior, ex Trinity House,  pilots came up behind me and peered over my shoulder. “What’s that you’re doing?” he questioned. I explained that I was preparing a passage plan. “A load of nonsense!” he expostulated and tapping his forehead he advised me, “Sonny (although a qualified Master Mariner I was still only in my 40’s!) there’s only one place for a passage plan and that’s up here and that’s the only place you need it”.

Needless to say, I ignored this pearl of wisdom and continued with my calculations but reading through incident reports it is regrettable to note that such attitudes, although probably now more as a result of complacency rather than outright resistance, still prevail!

It must never be forgotten that when navigating in confined waters a ship is in an environment for which it wasn’t designed and the average “Bridge Team” is operating in an environment for which they haven’t been trained. Despite these factors it is still rare for a Master or watchkeeper to ask detailed questions about the proposed passage and therefore a pilot has a professional duty to be pro-active in providing details and advise the Master or watchkeeper of any changes to the plan as the passage progresses.

The majority of vessels are now fitted with Voyage Data Recorders (VDR). Following any incident the first thing that the investigators will be listening for is a detailed exchange between the pilot and the Master so pilots should therefore always ensure that their professionalism cannot be criticised.

Leave a Reply

UK Maritime Pilots' Association
European Maritime Pilots' Association
Internation Pilots' Association SITE SPONSORS
Navicom Dynamics
OMC International