Article

Marine Pilots: Unsung Heroes Of The Shipping Industry


published on 12 August 2020 279

pictures and article by "The Cleaner"

Every time we see a ship entering or leaving a Jamaican port, we can rest assured that no matter how massive that cargo or cruise ship may be, there is a Jamaican marine pilot at the helm. He is skilfully guiding that vessel into or out of harbour with knowledge and experience that assures the safety of that ship, all the personnel aboard and its valuable cargo.

For centuries, the world’s shipping interests have employed pilots with local knowledge of depths, tides and currents to guide vessels into or out of port safely – or wherever navigation may be considered hazardous, particularly when a shipmaster is unfamiliar with the area.

The International Maritime Organization, a specialised agency of the United Nations responsible for regulating shipping, notes that in addition to local knowledge and expertise, pilots are able to provide effective communication with the shore and with tugs, often in the local language.

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.

Pilot Roy ‘Roxy’ Fuller, one of the founders of the Jamaica Marine Pilots Association, possesses a wealth of knowledge on the history of Jamaica’s marine pilots. He recently retired as a member of that elite group after giving 47 years of service to the island’s shipping industry and is happy to share a few facts with us.

EXPERT Navigator
Pilot Fuller said a marine pilot is an expert in ship handling and navigation, licensed to operate in specific ports and pilotage areas by a competent authority. In Jamaica, that authority is the Port Authority of Jamaica. The Jamaica Marine Pilots Association (JMPA) was formed in 1976 and among the founding members were Pilots Hermon King, A.E.’Duke’ Fuller, Danny Welch, Malcolm Jones and Roxy Fuller. The JMPA was formed to oversee the welfare of pilots and to provide a platform for the negotiations and voice of the pilots with the Port Authority of Jamaica.

The highlights of the JMPA’s achievements over the years include improvements in remuneration; negotiating the 20 per cent duty on motor vehicles in light of the intensive islandwide travelling to the ports; the acquisition of modern pilot boats for the Kingston service; and permanent offices with overnight accommodation, uniforms and other amenities.

The current president of the JMPA is Pilot Hubert Kerr, who has already given 37 years of service as a licensed marine pilot and has also previously served as president. He points out that the marine pilots were the first to take precautionary actions in the COVID-19 pandemic as they had kept abreast of international news, especially as it concerns shipping. He says that from as early as in January of 2020, the local pilots got word of what was happening in Wuhan, China, and because they have to pilot ships coming from that country, they were wearing masks and sanitising their hands from that time.

Pilot Kerr also notes that his administration is now negotiating with Tax Administration Jamaica on behalf of the 26 members of the JMPA, because they feel there needs to be some sensitivity to the unique aspects of pilotage, especially with regard to how salaries are determined. He says that the job requires tremendous mental and physical effort and that the current pandemic has made things even more difficult. For example, during the closure of hotels, pilots had nowhere to stay overnight and so had to travel many miles, sometimes in the dead of night, to get to ports and then immediately board ships to bring them safely to dock.

“We are also trying to get improved health insurance coverage for our members,” Pilot Kerr states, adding that the welfare of retired marine pilots is a top priority for the association.

The JMPA is also placing a lot of emphasis on the training of marine pilots to meet the demands of increased shipping globally. He says that the JMPA is committed to maintaining the highest international standards in pilotage in Jamaica.

Jamaica has earned a worldwide reputation of providing the best pilots in the region, especially in the areas of technical skills and manoeuvring, and both pilots Fuller and Kerr and believe that this results from the rigorous and thorough training that apprentices must undergo before they are allowed to carry out any piloting on their own.

There are six regularly used ports around Jamaica and every apprentice pilot needs to have four years of training in navigating each of them, and is tested separately at those ports before being allowed to pilot on their own.

Requirements
Persons interested in becoming a marine pilot can apply to become apprentice marine pilots if they have graduated from a recognised maritime institution; hold a minimum Class III foreign-going certificate; have a minimum of two years as a navigating officer in charge of a watch; and have working knowledge of electronic chart display and information system, and bridge resource management.

The successful candidates must be available for training at nights, on weekends and public holidays; will be required to embark and disembark pilot ladders in adverse weather conditions while the vessel is under way; and must be medically and physically fit to perform the duties of a marine pilot.

The shipping industry takes this opportunity to salute the marine pilots of Jamaica – past, present and future – for their sterling contributions to our nation’s development as we proudly celebrate the 58th anniversary of Jamaica’s Independence.
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

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 Kingston 1 & Kingston 2 - Pilot Boats - Naming & Commissioning 2018

On Wednesday, January 24, 2018, the #PortAuthorityJa hosted a Naming & Commissioning Service for #Kingston1 and #Kingston2, two new pilot boats for the service of Jamaica. The new boats replace older, undersized and malfunctioning ones, and is part of ongoing meaningful improvements to maritime operations at at our ports island-wide! Here are highlights, courtesy of #WeirzWorldMedia!

0

Video ZIM inward to Kingston Jamaica with ECDIS

ZIM inward to Kingston Jamaica with ECDIS

0

Article Can you trust your GNSS data?

published on 5 May 2021

Knowing where the ship is and where to sail next is the main task of navigating a ship and is commonly supported by using Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS). But what happens if the GNSS gets intentionally disturbed? GNSS interference can lead to GNSS outages, causes major disruptions to the shipping industry impacting safe navigation, leading to delayed shipping routes, misunderstandings and even collisions.

0

Video TasPorts | Marine Pilots and Marine Operatives

Have you ever wanted to watch a marine pilot in action? Last night, TasPorts was delighted to offer up for auction a pilot boat experience to support Cancer Council Tasmania's 25th Anniversary Gala in Launceston. A second experience will be offered at the Cancer Council Tasmania Gala in Hobart next month. Both events raise funds to support Tasmanians dealing with cancer through advocacy, prevention, support and research. This video was filmed in 2018 (pre-COVID), was broadcast at last...

1

Video Handling a mid size container ship

"Mizar" is a 165 LOA containership, which follows a liner route between the caribbean and the US.
It has a fixed pitch propeller and a bow thruster, which makes it easier to handle. This maneuver consisted of basically just pulling her off the dock and then doing a 160 turn.

0

Video CSCL Star Ultra Large Container Ship docks at the port of Hamburg - Time Lapse in 4k

The Chinese container freighter "CSCL Star" belongs to the class of Ultra Large Container Ships (ULCS) and is one of the largest ships that can enter the port of Hamburg.

0

Video New Pilot Vessel "SEA MASTER" / Bulk Carrier Ship "TAI HAWK"

New Pilot Vessel "SEA MASTER" / On board Bulk Carrier Ship "TAI HAWK" - Arriving at #Recalada #BoardingStation #KM239_1 #PuntaIndioChannel #RioDeLaPlata #Argentine Nueva Lancha de Prácticos "SEA MASTER" / A bordo del Buque de Transporte a Granel "TAI HAWK" - Llegando a Recalada #EstaciónDeEmbarque KM 239,1 del Canal Punta Indio, del Río de La Plata #Argentina This video (original sound) was filmed on board Bulk Carrier Ship "TAI HAWK" (IMO Number: 9284556) and shows the moment when the...

0

Video Genesis – Berkeley Class Pilot Boat by Dongara Marine

Harbour Services Australia was the client for this ultra-efficient pilot vessel, Dongara Marine's second Berkeley Class pilot boat to operate from the port of Fremantle. Delivered in June 2019 it joined Fremantle Pilots’ Berkeley, which had already been operating with great success in the Western Australian port since 2015. Purpose-designed to maximise overall operability and the safety and comfort of pilots and crew even in demanding sea conditions, the Berkeley Class provides: • High open...

0