Piloting in the Corona Era - Understanding differences in COVID-19 mitigating procedures

by Herman Broers - Rotterdam / Netherlands - published -
771

Piloting in the Corona Era - Understanding differences in COVID-19 mitigating procedures
photos by Herman Broers
"The bridge wing is a place where pilot and master are required to work close to each other"


The impact on general shipping
As the world struggles with the Covid-19 virus, the maritime world is being hit hard, not only economically, but also socially and operationally. Where different countries use different ways to defeat this deadly virus, it is a challenge to deal with this in the international business of shipping. After all, in shipping there are no borders.

For a ship on a typical voyage, both the shipowner and the flag state, as well as the countries where the departure and arrival ports are located have their own procedures how to protect the crews and the ships from the dangerous virus.

Piloting in the Corona Era
The pilots who have to deal with the different ships are faced with their own challenges. Pilot boats and tenders are small ships where people often stay close to each other, on the way to and from the ship. The physical challenges of the work and limitations of the ships, such as climbing pilot ladders and moving through small spaces, do not effectively allow the use of the many PPEs available.

The procedures to prevent the spread of the corona virus that are observed locally in the ports often do not correspond to the procedures used on board the ships. It is difficult to deal with this and this can lead to misunderstanding between the pilot and the ship’s crews. This results in tensions that can affect the pilot’s relation with the bridge team, and thus his work.

As an example: The profession of pilot is referred to in the Netherlands as a “vital profession”, classified by the government under the term “shipping handling”. Just like in the rest of the country, the national standard of social distancing is used in the port of Rotterdam. It is mandatory that the pilot, as long as he is free from fever and shows no signs of corona, goes to work. He does not have to wear PPEs. As long as the pilot keeps 1.5 meters away from others, he can do his job, is the theory.

It is clear that the above practice clashes with certain measures on board ships. The pilot comes on board via a gangway or pilot ladder and is received on deck or in the accommodation by a crew member according to the rules. He has to go through a system of corridors and sometimes a lift to the bridge, where space is limited as well.

In recent weeks we have seen crews who do not have any procedures to combat Covid-19 contamination. Also, we have seen crews dressed from head to toe in protective gear, comparable to nurses in an intensive care unit. It has happened more than once that pilots were checked for fever by means of thermometers. Some pilots were asked to sign a health declaration before they could start their duties. On some ships, the pilot was not allowed to touch anything on the bridge, not even the navigation- or communication equipment with which he would have to work.


It is important for us to recognize that the pilot is the first “intruder” of a ship that has often been quarantined by nature at sea for weeks prior to arrival in port. We are the possible first source of the danger, so it is understandable that the captain and his crew are suspicious. On the other hand, it is also important to create the conditions in which the pilot and crew can successfully work well together.

It is not easy to come up with a simple solution to this procedure-gap problem. After all, there is no internationally recognized maritime standard for dealing with a pandemic. Until then, it is important for all parties to be aware of the risks, but certainly also of the social and cultural differences. The use of mouth masks and gloves by the pilots on board ships has become standard practice, even though according to the port state this would not be necessary.

All in all, the work has not become easier. As long as we understand each other and recognize that nautical service providers and the crews are doing their utmost in these difficult circumstances to keep the cargo flows going, we can bring this challenging situation to a successful conclusion.
Original article
Editor's note:
Opinion pieces reflect the personal opinion of individual authors. They do not allow any conclusions to be drawn about a prevailing opinion in the respective editorial department. Opinions are usually deliberately formulated in a pronounced or even explicit tone and may contain biased arguments. They are intended to polarise and stimulate discussion. In this, they deliberately differ from factual articles you typically find on this platform, written to present facts and opinions in as balanced a manner as possible.

Join the conversation...

There is one comment to this.
Login or register to view comments and join the discussion!
Read more...

Article How to Avoid Catching COVID19 whilst Piloting

by The United Kingdom Maritime Pilots' Association - published

The United Kingdom Maritime Pilots' Association (UKMPA) has all been inundated with CV19 communications from all manner of sources in the last few weeks. Here is a condensed collection of information from the UKMPA.

0

Article Corona causes financial impact on some Marine Pilots

by Frank Diegel, CEO & Founder Marine-Pilots.com - published

Fewer vessels in voyage mean less pilotage and this means less income for many Pilots. Not every Pilot is an employee and many pilots are self-employed and organised in a brotherhood per example. They are earning only money if they are piloting a vessel. No vessel – no money.

0

Article New Zealand MPA Guidance to manage COVID19

by Marine-Pilots.com - published

Following engagement with the New Zealand Maritime Pilots Association President, Steve
Banks, the following information is intended to provide guidance to support New Zealand’s
Maritime Pilots to carry out their critical functions.

0

Video Malta Maritime Pilots

Malta Maritime Pilots

0

Opinion If you facilitate 90% of the world's trade, would you influence change?

by Melvin Mathews - published

Without a shadow of doubt, shipping is a key enabler of our current way of life and the globalized world we live in today. The irony is that the average person is unaware of the significance or contribution of the shipping industry and how much we rely on ships working without disruption

0

Video Ships in Freeport of Riga

Ships in Freeport of Riga

0

Opinion Positioning of vessel at berth by using bridge wing gyro repeater

by Capt. Girish Chandra - published

Today I will discuss a very simple and useful practical trick often used by pilots.

When we have to berth a vessel with small clearances forward and aft (say 20 to 25 mtr fwd and aft) it is very essential that you are able to estimate your position. Now most of the time you have a berthing supervisor on jetty who will help you with position.

0

Opinion "Ship's Pilot" - A poem by Gaylen K. Bunker

by Frank Diegel, CEO & Founder Marine-Pilots.com - published

A wonderful poem by Gaylen K. Bunker found on YouTube. As read by the author from bis book "Poems".

0

Article The conditions for recruiting pilots for the Le Havre station are changing.

by Marine-Pilots.com - published

The three main french pilotage stations in the Channel - North Sea have changed their recruitment conditions for taking a pilotage examination.

0

Article Scary 30m (98.4ft) Wave Off Irelands West Coast Yesterday

by Marine-Pilots.com - published

A monster wave of 30m was measured at 03:00 am by the Marine Institute M6 buoy located 200nm West of Ireland.

1