The Technical and Training Committee: Nick Lee

At the Association’s annual conferences I talked about how the technical and training committee (T&TC) is formed. This is a busy group carrying out important work in conjunction with the executives who form the Section Committee. Whilst I have been chairman, this commitee has carried out a number of projects, and investigated, trialled and reported back on equipment and best practice. Our primary aim is to increase safety in pilotage, whether this be personal safety of the pilot or how pilotage acts are performed. This is a big remit and can only be done with a dedicated and strong team which I am proud to have. All the group’s members are pilots, the difference being we come from different ports and have various background experience that makes us successful in what we do.

Over the years we have been very lucky to be able to source advice from pilots in other countries as well as having Nick Cutmore IMPA Secretary General attend some of our meetings, as well as Jeremy Dale, Director of SeaSafe Ltd.

The improved personal safety of pilots, a long-term project the T&TC has looked at and appraised, has been a major success is the Emergency Care Course. This course is now delivered to a number of ports for pilots and also launch crews, and it is with pride that the MAIB also puts its personnel on it. Deck clamps for pilot ladders to prevent them swinging whilst a pilot climbs them are now regularly seen on ships’ sides. However, we have discovered that there could be issues with crimping of ropes and this we will investigate further. Jeremy Dale of SeaSafe worked with us to produce a video on what happens when a pilot falls into the water from a ladder. Preparation for this video allowed us to identify best practice. The work on pilot ladders does not

stop there: we still continue to lobby against the use of shackles to secure ladders and have identified some crews’ incompetence to rig a ladder correctly. We are discussing whether the Association should produce a video to send to colleges on best practice for the rigging of ladders. The Association works with the ports groups and has produced the Boarding and Landing Code, which will be reviewed by the committee and working partners every three years.

What I would like to bring to members’ attention is the use of illegally weighted heaving lines. These are generally used to secure the tugs line for hoisting onboard. These are dangerous as they contain weights that could injure tug crews. One major tug company uses sand bags, a notable idea.

We continue to work in or with steering groups, such as UK safety of navigation UKSON and PIANC, inputting valuable advice and experience collated from pilots’ experience onboard ship and in UK ports. We are able to say to groups that this is our experience rather than what we have heard reported. Between us and the Section Committee we continue to attend meetings with the Maritime and Coastguard and Port Skills and Safety.

Much time has been spent working with port groups such as the British Ports Association, UK Major Ports Group and Port Skills and Safety on the Marine Pilots’ Certificare (MPC). This work continues and hopefully soon we will see it come to fruition. For the time being we continue to input our knowledge on how the certificate will work with regarding assessing, continued professional development for ongoing validation and what units need to be assessed and how.

The work for T&TC doesn’t just stop there. We have a three-year plan and have identified a number of areas we want to look at:

1. PPU governance issues in ports

2. The Use of two pilots onboard ship, what procedures and working relationships need to be established, and what could be considered best practice

3. Escort towage has been around for years, various ports and terminal operators using it around the world; it is currently used in many UK ports. However, the procedures are not universal, with different ports/ terminals using what they consider ‘best practice’. There are currently no uniform competence standards in training between tug operators, tug masters or pilots, for what can be a complex operation with serious consequences if not executed correctly. We will shortly be giving firmer guidance to those ports using incorrect procedures.

I should like to pass on my thanks to the T&TC committee members, all of whom give up a lot of time. Tim Wingate is standing down and he is thanked for his input, not only at this committee over the years but also for the AZIPILOT booklet he developed for members’ use.

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