Opinion

‘There’s a smaller window for error’


published on 28 June 2021 109 -

Captain Andre Smith shares risks facing marine industry

Being part of any industry for over four decades would give anyone substantial insight into its operations, developments, and challenges. It is this unique perspective that Captain Andre Smith has brought to the Port Authority of Jamaica (PAJ), where he serves as a senior marine pilot.

Captain Smith began his journey in the maritime industry as a cadet in 1980, working his way up to being captain of his first vessel a decade later. He described that initial voyage where he held command of a vessel from Mobile, Alabama, in the United States of America to Port Esquivel in Jamaica, as filled with nerves but “exciting”.

Back then, things were somewhat simpler, as the demands of international commerce were not at today’s increasingly frenzied pace, which has brought its own difficulties.

“The day-to-day challenges that the [local] marine pilot faces are the same challenges that all pilots around the world face; the vessels are getting much bigger [but] the ports are not getting any bigger,” Smith.

“It’s the same size ports that we are squeezing these bigger and bigger vessels in. Every time a bigger vessel comes, there’s a smaller window for error in doing these manoeuvres. So we have to be extremely careful bringing these ships in.”

Stressing the role of the marine pilot in carefully guiding vessels, Smith said, “Safety is our biggest regard; that overrides everything. We don’t consider commercial pressure when it comes to safety, because that is our job and that is what we are paid to do – to make sure that everything is safe, we don’t have any accidents, we don’t have any oil spills, anything like that. That is what we do first and foremost.”

MARINERS OVERLOOKED
Despite the significance of the role, the Caribbean Maritime Institute and Warsash Maritime College alumnus, said mariners are often overlooked.

“The Jamaican seafarers don’t get vast recognition. I think the only time anybody heard or cared anything about seafarers is when the pandemic started and we had to repatriate some of the persons that were working on cruise ships,” he said.

Despite the challenges faced, including the inability to leave ships and be repatriated home when their contracts ended, seafarers continued to work “to keep the lines of commerce open, because the world trade is pinned, or pivots, on maritime trade. We are the silent underpinning to the whole world trade, and a lot of people don’t realise that and take a lot of things for granted.”

With the International Maritime Organization recognising Day of the Seafarer, and the need for their ‘fair futures’ on June 25, Smith shared his thoughts on what that means.

“A fair future is one in which they are adequately compensated for the work that they have done and are not mistreated, as they have been in some instances, by not getting wages and not being able to go home when their contracts are up.” Further, he said that while the dwelling conditions aboard most ships have improved, many are still “less than ideal for long-term living”.

Locally, Smith said the continued education and training of seafarers is urgently needed to ensure safe operations within the developing industry.

“I would love to see a more comprehensive programme of training because these ships are getting much bigger and the ports are remaining at the same size, so we need to do more in terms of keeping pilots current with the activities that are happening internationally and to make sure that when these ships come, they don’t come as a surprise to us and we are struggling to keep up with them.

“We would have already been fully trained, done all the simulators, and we have gone onboard live model ships to train. What I would love to see is the more fulsome cooperation with some of these shipping companies when it comes to developing training programmes. I would love to see more work being done in coordinating training for all the pilots; a few of us have already done some preliminary work, but that is far too few; we need to do some more.”
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. Opinion pieces might be deliberately formulated in a pronounced or even explicit tone and may contain biased arguments. They might be intended to polarise and stimulate discussion. In this, they deliberately differ from the factual articles you typically find on this platform, written to present facts and opinions in as balanced a manner as possible.
What's your opinion on this?
Login or register to write comments and join the discussion!
Read more...

Video The Port Authority of Jamaica | Critical Services - Pilotage

published on 15 April 2021

Pilotage is compulsory in all Jamaican ports and is a necessity for the safe passage and docking of ships entering and leaving the harbours. No ship or vessel can enter our Ports without the #PortAuthorityJa’s pilotage services. #MarinePilots, being the experts in local conditions, are required to assist in the navigation and manoeuvring of vessels in our channels and port areas and are dispatched to all ports in Jamaica on a 24 hour basis. Our #PilotBoatCrew ensures that Marine Pilots are...

1

Video PAJ Marine Pilot - Captain Andre Smith, TVJ Smile Jamaica Feature

published on 16 December 2021

Good insight into the work of the pilots in Jamaica.

0

Opinion Marine Pilots: Unsung Heroes Of The Shipping Industry

published on 12 August 2020

Qualified pilots are usually employed by the local port or maritime administration, and provide their services to ships for a fee, calculated in relation to the ship’s tonnage, draught or other criteria.

0

Article #DangerousLadders on Facebook

by Marine-Pilots.com - published on 10 September 2019

A valuable campaign managed by Chris Young, Kevin Vallance and others, which we found on Facebook .

1

Article River and Bar Pilot Accidents

by www.maritimeinjuryguide.org - published on 16 December 2021

"Mariners may receive financial compensation for current and future medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, present and future lost wages, and pain and suffering."

1

Opinion Example of a Passage Plan used by Portsmouth Pilots, UK

by Tim Cummins, Portsmouth, UK - published on 10 February 2021

Created by Tim Cummins. This is an uncontrolled example of the latest passage plan used by the Pilot Service at Portsmouth International Port.

0

Article IMPA is hosting examples of best practice and protocols during Covid-19 times

by IMPA - International Maritime Pilots’ Association - published on 26 March 2020

IMPA has published examples of best practice together with a letter from Capt. Simon Pelletier, President of IMPA.

0

Article Pilot Transfer Arrangements and new Regulations

by Captain Jesus Señeriz Lopez - published on 4 February 2020

As we all know there is a new regulation established since July 2012, this new regulation refers to pilot transfer arrangements. There are other yearly safety campaigns such as IMPA that include SOLAS V.23 and IMO Resolution A 1045 and Resolution A.1108(29). Unfortunately, in this annual overview there were some accidents reported that could have been avoided.

0

Video Pilot embarking and disembarking

published on 22 September 2020

timelapse of Pilot embarking and departing from Ship
#shorts

1

Video Pilot boarding with pilot boat "Spindletop"

published on 10 May 2021

Pilot Organisation: Sabine Pilots - USA

0