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Thursday, September 20, 2018


INTERTANKO participated in the IMO sub-Committee on Safety of Navigation (NAV 46) this week, where one of the most important items considered was pilotage. The main pilotage issue was the consideration by the sub-Committee of whether or not pilots should agree to participate in pilotage pre-planning.

Members will recall that this issue was introduced in IMO as long ago as 1996 and there has been constant opposition to the issue from pilotage organisations on the grounds of inferred liability and increased responsibility.

The position of the joint industry paper, submitted by the majority of shipowner organisations, was that in creating a revised IMO Resolution on Training and Certification of Maritime Pilots, guidance should be included regarding the need for the early exchange of information between the pilot and the bridge team ahead of the pilot boarding to assist in pre-planning of the pilotage phase of the passage.

The industry was also keen to emphasise the necessity of ensuring that pilotage communication is conducted in the English language, or a language that can be understood by the bridge team. Another issue pushed by INTERTANKO and others is that when a pilot is communicating to parties external to the ship, such as tugs, if the pilot is unable to communicate in the English language or a language that can be understood on the bridge, the pilot should explain to the bridge team what was being communicated with the external party.

In the ensuing discussions INTERTANKO encountered strong resistance to accepting pilotage pre-planning being mentioned in the revised non-mandatory IMO resolution. Neither did the present pilotage interests support the need for the pilot to inform the bridge team of what is being done when talking with external parties in another language.

INTERTANKO was able to enjoy the support of a number of Administrations, such as Liberia, Bahamas, Cyprus, Greece, Hong Kong China, UK and Singapore. Unfortunately, Panama who, as a Flag State, might have been expected to support owners, sided with the pilots.

The revised text of the Resolution will now be sent to the next meeting of the Standards for Training and Watchkeeping meeting at IMO in January next year for finalisation. However, INTERTANKO will not allow the matter to rest here. This is a fundamental matter of safety benefit to members’ tankers. That pilotage bodies should wish to deny what is already established practices in a number of ports around the world, is an indication that their real concerns rest somewhere else.  A list of pros and cons for the inclusion of mentioning pilotage pre-planning was drawn up by the working group for consideration by the committee.

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