ABPmer was commissioned to facilitate a risk assessment workshop to review the need for two pilots for container ships on passage to, and from, a large UK port.
Workshop attendees included pilots, ship’s masters, tug masters, Harbour Authority personnel and marine operational staff. The team critically examined the passage of a 400m LOA ULCS with a draught of 13.5m from a pilot boarding location to its berth, captained by a single pilot.
The workshop found that:
- Effective use of the ship’s bridge team, master and officers removes workload from the single pilot. This needs to be clearly defined in the master/pilot exchange, with critical sections of the passage identified.
- Active use of the vessel traffic service, by masters or pilots using one-way traffic operating within certain areas, can provide a priority passage. This reduces the risk of interaction with other craft, removing time pressure for the pilot who would otherwise need to respond.
- Moving to a one-pilot operation may reduce the use of the Portable Pilot Unit, but will not make it redundant.
- It is not possible to mitigate for a pilot's sudden illness or incapacity. In this case, the ship’s master would decide whether to complete the passage to berth or abort back to sea. This decision can be informed by the Vessel Traffic Controller.
The workshop concluded that a one-pilot operation was practical and safe for inbound and outbound transit for the examined vessel, assuming hazard risk controls remain the same, and measures identified in the workshop are implemented.