Reducing the Risk from PIlot Errors

Many captains seem to have a personal problem with pilots. Mostly I think it’s the fact they are not one. Never felt that way, I’ve learned a lot from pilots over the years, many good ones out there.

Having said that… You get a bad one from time to time, more often in some ports then others.

First things the pilots do is send a list of their demands. Typically they want 48 hr, 24 hr, 12 hr 6 hr ETA notice. They have rules on ETA changes. Then they give the boarding time and place, what speed then want and of course a good lee. Then in the wheel house they want coffee, one cream, two sugars, (the good ones drink it black), a place to plug in the lap top, a chair to sit in, something to eat etc, etc, etc.

What about the ship? Pilot comes aboard, some places they will discuss the route, some places they give you a little paper chartlet with the route marked. But often nothing, I"ve handed pilots the pilot card to initiate a master/pilot conference only to have they wave me off with a gesture and a grunt.

One problem is that the second mate creates a voyage plan from “berth to berth” but often it’s different then the pilot’s plans. In a river of course there is little variation but some ports have more then one possible route.

I’d like to see [B]a requirment that the pilots send to the ship via email a route with waypoints, (gpx file or whatever) similar to what the ship is required to produce. [/B] 24 hours in advance. Of course they are going to squeal about it but the relationship is unequal, time to shift a little authority the other way.

This would give the ship’s crew time to evaluate the route rather then being forced to do it under time pressure while the ship is entering or preparing to leave port.

The pilot card and any deficiencies (of course there are none) should always discussed first especially since your standing under the VDR. I don’t understand why guys balk at signing the paper work, it’s not legally binding and just creates issues with the ships crew in your initial interaction.

If you in a locality where you might not follow the obvious route there is always time to look at the chart. Have the pilot go over it with you. The 2nd mates voyage plan probably won’t match up with your route and most groups will not (and won’t in the foreseeable future) send you a list of way points, so have your mates interact with the pilot or make notes on course changes on the chart and modify your passage plan. Sometimes these route modifications may mean a speed reduction or something special. Taking a different route may be a “Game Time” decision depending on a number of factors like speed, ETA at the berth, visibility, traffic, tide and current. If you have concerns speak up, and more importantly convey to your officers these concerns because most of the time they could care less about the transit.

As far as evaluating the route goes that should be done when you establish a passage plan. Most approved voyage plans are pretty much the most direct route and don’t utilize things along the route like deepest water, navigational aids, etc…
This is why you take the pilot. He comes with a laptop with waypoints and believe it or not His only interest is getting you into port the most safe and efficient way possible. When you put in the log book “under pilots advice” mean it.[/QUOTE]

Of course, the point that pilots have requirements is well understood, That’s my point. PIlots have things they want from the ship and the ship has to supply them. However for transfers from pilot so ship the pilot controls this as well. Specifically with regards to information; pilots control the timing and format of the transfer of information to the ship about the ship’s route.

I’m reguired to have the route from the pilot staton to the berth entered into the ECDIS and other equipment. However that information is not supplied by the only person who has it, the pilot The information is not given to the ships in timely matter or in the format desired. Of course we take our best guess and enter that.

Many pilots have the waypoint / route informaion in digital format, the same way it’s needed. However while the pilots can request and get the information they want when they want it and in the format they want, the ship can not.

I would like to have the route plan in digital format (gpx file for example) 24 hours or more before arrival. That would give the crew time to enter it into the various equipment and evaluate it before arrival or departure.

Of course captain and pilot will exchange information the old fashion way regardless but this is 2015. Just hand-waving over the chart doesn’t cut it anymore.

[QUOTE=lm1883;165533]That will never happen due to the litigious nature of our industry. Too much liability involved. While I am 100% confident that you will evaluate the information sent to you, a good chunk of Mariners will say “enter it, the pilots sent it” and a percentage of those will enter it wrong. If pilots to every port you went sent you the entire route, how many Mariners would even scrutinize the chart at all?

More importantly, how are you going to evaluate the route? If you are signing off on the existing voyage plans, which are typically wrong, how are you going to determine if the pilots route is up to snuff, especially if you’ve never been there? If you are regular in a certain area, why wouldn’t you have the route already dialed in?

Hand waving over the chart has worked pretty well for a long time. If you have been over the chart and supervised the voyage plan, which from your posts here I’m definitely sure you have, it is a simple discussion to have. Simple pencil marks on the chart and your in business for the next time your are there. Put it in your voyage report and email it to the other ships in the fleet and they are set too.[/QUOTE]

[SIZE=4]This is a good thread, and a great discussion…I believe that Pilotage as a whole is still an area to which further developments in BRM are required, and international standards should be legislated there-in. Furthermore, Marine Pilots (in my experience) are often running on tight schedules in regards to fatigue management and one could say transversely , the same way in which the author of this article says that (I’m paraphrasing) “You get good ones, and you get the occasional bad one (pilot)”

The same goes with vessels, where English is sometimes not used onboard as the working language, and can be very much be a huge risk to effective BRM and normal ship to pilot comms.

And after all is said and done… “[SIZE=5]The pilot is a guide to the ship’s captain and officers and does not take over the control of the ship. If the pilot makes a mistake, the ship’s captain and crew are still responsible as they control the ship at all times.”[/SIZE][/SIZE]

As to who is found responsible after an incident, I think we all know that’s a bit of a crap shoot. Often the pilot is more exposed to legal difficulties.

Before an incident the queston is of little importance as it is in both parties intrest that things go smoothly and without incident.