Industry booklet: ‘International Best Practices for Maritime Pilotage’

It is intended that every ocean-going vessel and all pilotage organisations in the world will receive a copy of this new, free booklet produced jointly by INTERTANKO, OCIMF and ICS.

This new booklet, produced jointly by INTERTANKO, OCIMF and ICS, is now published and available.

This important publication addresses two main concerns:

The traditional relationship between a master, the Officer of the Watch and pilots can be a confusing one sometimes, and we aim to help clarify this relationship and identify what is expected from each.

Although INTERTANKO agrees with and fully supports all the recommendations contained within the proposed revision to Resolution A.485(XII), Annex 2, it does not feel this resolution goes far enough in highlighting or resolving certain areas of concern. Accordingly, these areas need to be brought to the attention of pilots and all those who use pilotage services.

Maritime pilotage is one of the few industries without any formal structure for accountability. Even with compulsory pilotage the “customer” is in a position where he has little influence over the quality of the service he receives.

The purpose of this Industry Guide is to explain clearly what should be considered as Best Practice by the ship and its crew and by those who offer pilotage services.

Many of the practical concerns dealt with in this Guide are not covered in the proposed revision of A.485(XII) Annex 2, and these are listed below:

Pre-arrival information to the ship

Although Sailing Directions, Light and Radio Lists, and charts provide much information for the Master to fulfil his passage planning obligations A.893(21), in practice this information often changes too rapidly for up-to-date information to be received on board. We believe that it is important for port/pilotage authorities to provide current general information either directly, or via the ship’s agents prior to arrival so that ships can create a provisional passage plan before embarking the pilot. Such items as known navigational hazards; recommended anchorages; possible grounding areas; and expected berth locations should also be provided.

Many pilots claim that the supply of such data, which may well change and are therefore provisional, could be regarded as a safety hazard.

Duties and Responsibilities

Our Guide recommends that the pilot be integrated into the bridge management team. The IMO document does not provide full guidance on this, noting only the ship staff’s duty to support the pilot, not a reciprocal responsibility.

The only reference within the IMO paper to the “responsibility of pilots” is with regard to a shared responsibility (with ship’s staff) for good communications and understanding of each other’s role. Little explanation of the roles is provided.

3.Communications during pilotage

Our Guide emphasises the bridge team concept and suggests that the pilot should show responsibility in highlighting any perceived errors or omissions by the ship’s staff, in the same way that ship’s staff have a responsibility to highlight perceived errors or omissions by the pilot.

For third party communications in a different language to the ship’s crew, our Guide recommends that the pilot should immediately explain his messages to the ship’s staff (to enable monitoring of all actions by other bridge team members).

Other factors

The industry paper suggests that pilots should assist with reports and investigations into incidents under pilotage. The IMO paper does not address this clearly.

The industry paper deliberately avoided Security issues until after the Diplomatic Conference, on the understanding that any appropriate changes in A485 Annex 2 can be made prior to the 23rd Assembly.

It is intended that every ocean-going vessel and all pilotage organisations in the world will receive a copy. Accordingly, we will shortly be sending to each individual member a copy of this publication for each vessel in the fleet with an additional copy for the office

Your help in distributing this free publication, to your vessels, when received, would be appreciated.

Contact: Howard Snaith, e-mail: