Safety during pilot transfer operations


Published: 21 April 2015

Members are advised to ensure that masters and bridge teams take extra care during pilot transfer arrangements. The Marshall Islands Registry has recently advised its vessels of noted issues during this navigational phase.

Harbour traffic (Source: Port of Rotterdam, Freek van Arkel)

Navigational safety during pilot transfers

The Republic of the Marshall Islands maritime administrator has issued safety bulletin 10-15 to highlight navigational issues that may arise during the period of pilot boarding and disembarkation. In particular it was noted that a number of incidents have occurred, resulting in collisions, allisions, as well as groundings at or near areas where pilots board / leave vessels.

A particular feature of these incidents was that masters and bridge teams were distracted and lost their situational awareness.

Other issues found includes:

  • an over-reliance on pilot station's radioed advice
  • lack of effective passage planning
  • lack of effective preparation for the embarkation / disembarkation
  • ineffective bridge team management
  • ineffective ship Safety Management System (SMS) procedures for navigation

The advice is that ships and managers should review their SMS with respect to navigational procedures and bridge team training.

The full advisory is republished alongside Skuld's advisory with the kind permission of the Marshall Islands Registry.

Loss prevention and further reading

Navigational safety continues to be a key issue for overall vessel safety. Collisions, allisions, and groundings occur with regular frequency and while some can be traced back to mechanical issues, in most cases the "human element" had a role to play. Such accidents can be dramatic, putting both crew and vessel at risk. Effective training, and diligent follow up in operations (both on ship and on shore) can help to mitigate against such risks.

For vessel specific enquiries, members are asked to contact their usual Skuld business unit.

The Association is grateful to the Marshall Islands Registry for their contribution to this update.