Published by: "The Asian Journal of Shipping and Logistics"
Volume 35, Issue 1, March 2019, Pages 49-54
Concerns have been raised around pilotage in Korea due to a rise in marine accidents in the 2010s. Since the late 2000s, a debate has been sparked on the most suitable age of retirement for Korean pilots. The debate has focused on the extension of retirement age of pilots from 65 to 68 and whether this will affect the probability of marine accidents. Therefore, it is crucial to calculate the probability of marine accidents in relation to different age groups of pilots. After collecting the data of marine accidents caused by pilot's negligence, the study suggests two measurements of probability of marine accidents during pilotage: on the basis of the number of pilotage services and the hours of pilotage services. The analysis finds that age is not the exclusive cause of pilotage marine accidents by the age group over 65.
Pilotage, in maritime terms, means the services of a pilot, who gets on board to guide a ship along safe waterways in and around a port or at sea. In Korea, the license of a pilot is issued by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF), after rigorous tests.
There have been several issues and challenges for pilotage in Korea. First of all, pilots and the Korea Maritime Pilot’ Association (KMPA) have requested MOF to extend the retirement age of pilots from 65 to 68 since 2009. In 2009, the Korean Government stopped the extension of retirement age. Before this decision Korean pilots could serve additional three years after the age of 65. Second, the average age of pilot applicants rose from 50.0 in 2005 to 52.1 in 2013. Higher revenue of a pilot than that of a captain in Korea lures senior seafarers to apply to a pilot's license. In addition, average age of newly licensed pilots jumped from 43.4 in 2000 to 53.3 in 2013 (KMPA, 2014). The aging of newly licensed pilots is caused by the seniority preference system of license examination, where a senior seafarer can get a higher score in the evaluation of navigation experience. The aging of pilots and applicants raised a concern about pilotage skill from the customers and the shipping companies. Thirdly, marine accidents during pilotage in the 2010s, such as oil spills in Yeosu of 1,003 thousand litres in January 2014, heated up the debate on pilotage and marine safety. The pilot and captain in the 2014 oil spill were arrested due to negligence not by the Pilotage Act, but by the Marine Environment Management Act. The Pilotage Act describes a pilot on board as an advisor or an information provider on navigation around a port (Park, 2018).
The MOF drafted and proposed a new Pilotage Act to the National Assembly in November 2016, in order to handle policy issues in service quality and marine accidents. Even with a new amendment of Pilotage Act, major pilots aged 65 and under, and KMPA assert continually that it is necessary for MOF to extend the retirement age in order to better utilize the skills and experience of aged pilots. Hence, an exact analysis on marine accidents during pilotage may lead the MOF, pilots, KMPA, and shipping companies to an agreement on the main causes of the marine accidents and on policy decision of the retirement age of pilots. The debate on the retirement age still exists.
The present paper aims at reviewing marine accidents during pilotage in Korean ports and examining the characteristics of each group of pilots by age and port. Diverse elements of hazards during pilotage come from competency of a pilot, competency of captain, port control, passage plan, navigation aids, and weather (Trbojecvic and Carr, 2000). Understanding these elements, the paper focuses on the pilotage marine accidents caused by pilot's negligence. The Korea Maritime Safety Tribunal (KMST) examines and judges the causes of marine accidents in accordance with articles of the Act on Investigation and Inquiry into Marine Accidents. Hence the paper can clarify the causes of marine accidents during pilotage and limit its analysis on the cases of pilot's negligence. The paper is structured as in the following. Section 2 includes literature review on marine accidents and data collection on the pilotage marine accidents in Korea. Section 3 explains the main methodology of the analysis on pilotage marine accidents. Section 4 describes the pilotage marine accidents and analyses them by groups of pilots age and by port. Section 5 discusses the results of Section 4 and presents different views on a higher probability of the aged pilots in the pilotage marine accidents. Section 6 concludes the paper.