The hosting of the 2012 IMPA Congress in London by the UKMPA at the end of September was a once in career event and thanks to the brilliant organisation skills of the organising committee, in particular John Pearn & Don Cockrill, the event was a fantastic success. 

Not having ever attended an IMPA Congress before I couldn’t let this chance pass so early on I volunteered to be a host during the week long event and wouldn’t have missed it for anything.

As important as the presentation sessions was the social programme and the chance to meet and chat with  other pilots from all around the World.

In 2012, IMPA membership stands at 7604 from 49 countries and at the Congress there were over 300 pilot delegates from over 30 countries. During the week I was struck by the overwhelming friendliness that existed between the delegates and, upon reflection, pilotage is probably unique in that it has no boundaries imposed by political or religious beliefs.

We all have the same skills and handle the same ships because, within a period of a few months, a ship that loads  in the UK could visit other European Countries, Africa, America, transit the Panama Canal for Asia and the Antipodes and in every port the vessel will be piloted by a professional whose skills will enable him to competently face the challenges unique to their port. There are probably around 15,000 pilots ensuring that 95% of the World’s trade is moved safely around the World and this surely makes maritime pilotage totally unique and pilots must therefore be members of the World’s most exclusive club.

A full pictorial feature covering the Congress is included in the centre pages of this issue.


On a more sombre note, the feature this quarter highlights the dangers posed to tugs making fast to a centre lead forward. Although the tug’s Master is ultimately responsible for the safety of the tug and his crew, pilots also have a responsibility to ensure that the vessel’s speed is safe and to advise the tug Master of any additional factors which may compromise the safety of the tug. JCB

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