IMO Resolution A960

IMO RESOLUTION A960 (Replaces A485 XII)

Following the pre-emptive strike by a section of the shipping industry, who last year released a controversial document entitled International Best Practice for Maritime Pilots, the IMO have now released Resolution A960 which represents the “official” document for this topic. IMPA were fully consulted during its drafting but had a long and difficult battle taking it through the IMO procedures. However their hard work has been rewarded by being credited as co-authors on the cover. Having been drafted by pilots, at eleven pages short this resolution is brief and to the point.


Recommendation on training andcertification for maritime pilots other than deep sea pilots.

This annex recommends that Governments establish “Competent Pilotage Authorities” to administer or provide a pilotage service. It details proposals to ensure that every pilot is licensed and that entry qualifications and training and are appropriate for the applicant’s pilotage district. It also recommends that these criteria are established in co-operation with the national and local pilots’ associations. Basic guidelines for training are set out which emphasise the practical experience gained by accompanying experienced pilots and it identifies 28 topics that should form part of a syllabus for certification.


Recommendation on operational procedures for maritime pilots other than deep sea pilots.

The annex covers the following topics:

· Duties of master, bridge officers and pilot

· Pilot boarding point

· Procedures for requesting a pilot

· Master Pilot information exchange

· Communications language

· Reporting of incidents and accidents

· Refusal of pilotage services

· Fitness for duty

One welcome point made in the Master pilot exchange section qualifies the recommendation of IMO resolution A893 which states that “ … a detailed voyage or

passage plan should be prepared which should cover the entire voyage or passage from berth to berth, including those areas where the services of a pilot will be used”.

Pilots’ Associations have always disagreed with this viewpoint because it is impossible for the Master to be in possession of all the information necessary to prepare such a detailed plan. Such plans must assume that the vessel will arrive off the port at a fixed time, will undertake the passage at a set speed and arrive of the berth at a precise time! We all know that this is unrealistic and Resolution A960 acknowledges the impracticalities of the vessel preparing a detailed plan by stating that “… This (master/pilot) information exchange should be a continuous process that generally continues for the duration of the pilotage.” This concept of a flexible and dynamic plan is further emphasised by the clause stating “It should be clearly understood that any passage plan is a basic indication of preferred intention and both the pilot and master should be prepared to depart from it when circumstances so dictate”.

Any pilots left who are reluctant to adopt a formal passage plan exchange with the master (my passage plan is in my head syndrome!!) should read a few recent pilotage incident reports and all pilots should be aware that an increasing number of vessels are being fitted with voyage data recorders and some wheelhouses are also covered by video cameras!

Resolution A960 provides simple and common sense guidelines and all pilots should make themselves familiar with its contents and in particular the page covering the master pilot information exchange.

The full Resolution can be downloaded from the (new and improved) IMPA


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