Monday, April 7, 2008

The Role of the Pilot

I was following links at Bob Couttie's Maritime Accident Casebook site and stumbled on to this very interesting discussion regarding the role of the pilot aboard ship at Maritime Executive

One commenter noted that
"Navigation of a ship in United States pilotage waters is a shared responsibility between the pilot and the master/bridge crew"

The remarks made by Robert Force are particularly interesting"
“Generally, while exercising the functions of a pilot, a pilot is in sole control of the navigation of the ship, and the pilot's orders must be obeyed as, in effect, the orders of the master. While a pilot who is in charge of a vessel supersedes the master insofar as the navigation of the vessel is concerned, the master does not surrender the vessel to the pilot and the pilot is not the master. Thus, the master is still in command of the vessel, notwithstanding the presence of a pilot.] There are, however, occasions when the master may, and in fact must, interfere with, or even displace, the pilot."

The pilot is representing the interests of the state while the master is representing the interests of the ship owner and of course both the pilot and the master are at all times mindful of their own professional responsibilities. Each party has a stake in a successful outcome. It is the master's responsibly to ensure that he has provided the pilot with a competent bridge team and a seaworthy vessel.

I sometimes am struck by the fact that, as master, when I meet the pilot for the time, that a perfect stranger and I, after a perfunctory introduction, and hopeful an effective master/pilot exchange, are about to undertake, what we both hope will be a routine operation, but which, even in good conditions, always carries some degree of risk.

It is remarkable, and speaks to the high level of skill developed by most pilots that such operations are routinely carried out, in ports all over the world, successfully day after day (and night).

1 comment:

Ian McCallum said...

What is the hand over / hand back dialogue involving a Master, helmsman and pilot?