Five questions for Esil Abibula, Head of Romanian Pilotage Department

published on 27 July 2023 465 -

In our section “Five questions for ..." introduces pilots and other market players to our readers in short interviews.

Today we have talked to Esil Abibula, Head of Romanian Pilotage Department.

The following interview was conducted by Frank Diegel, CEO of TRENZ and Founder of


Hi Esil, we've known each other for a while and you've given us a great article about the Northwest Passage in the past on our website here.
Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for an edition of our series
"Five questions for ...".

Let's get started!

How long have you been working as a pilot and why did you choose this special job?

Hello again, dear Frank! It’s been some time since we heard from each other and it is always a pleasure to keep in touch with you, from Marine Pilots!

Regarding how long I’ve been working as a pilot, I can proudly say that this year marks 10 years since I have been practicing this profession.

When I was working on cruise ships, I had a Captain who was giving me the conn and I remember very well Captain Toledo (coming from spanish navy) when he was sitting in the bridge together with one Brasilian pilot - arrival Santos and he was very proud about how I was conning the ship and he was telling to the pilot that he taught me about close loop communication - this was before introducing this method on ships (after Concordia strong bridge team resource management (btrm) in force).

Since October 2022 you have the job as Head of Pilotage Department for the Romanian Port Authority. What are your new challenges in the job?

Yes, Frank, already 10 months… time flies...

It is still challenging! Every day is a challenge: more management, more papers to do… Every day I am doing my best for self-improvement, to increase maritime safety in Constanta Port and its areas! Looking to constantly improve the efficient communication between pilots and the tug Captains and Masters of the ships arriving or departing from our port! Every day I am looking forward to developing myself and growing other leaders and young pilots.

Now we are in the process of changing the generations. The old colleagues are preparing for retirement and we have plans to train some apprenticeships! It is a difficult task, because it is a special job and not every Captain can be a great marine pilot!
There has been war in Ukraine since February 2022. How has this changed the work in the region?

There is still a war, unfortunately…

Due to this unpredicted external factor that is not at all pleasant, I can say that the number of maneuvers has increased by about 3% for last year and the first half of this year. I estimate that at the end of 2023 there will be more maneuvers, taking into account the transport of grains from Ukraine via Constanta Port.

Has the work as a pilot become more dangerous? How can you help your colleagues in Ukraine in their work?

The problem of pilot job is well known for all of us - we depend on the weather, but also on the condition of ladders… unfortunately not all the ship crews take good care of this matter, but thanks God, there were no incidents in the last period due to ladder condition.

Regarding colleagues in Ukraine… we have a lot of Ukrainian sailors living in our area since war has started and we also meet them on ships as part of the crew … I can honestly say that all Romanian citizens have helped Ukrainian people since war has started and we are all praying for this war to end and that there will be peace in the world!
How would you like to develop and advance Romanian pilotage in the coming years?

My dream regarding developing the Romanian pilotage is to build a strong and young team of pilots that will continuously develop the safety of the port, together with the others involved in the safety of the port, that is the towing companies! Of course, all of these will be possible because the Port Administration, together with private port operators, will continuously develop the infrastructure and the safety of the port, which will lead to the development of the business and of the port industry.

In the future, I am looking forward to having 4 modern pilot boats in our area, in order to increase the standards and also the safety of the pilots!

What is the best thing about your job and why?

Honestly, my job is as a maritime pilot but now, in my position, I am most likely managing the Romanian pilotage in Constanta Port, and rarely when I don’t have meetings or other administrative tasks, I can do maneuvers and in those moments I feel the freedom of my job and its lovely part… Despite this fact, I can say that on the whole, I love what I am doing as head of the Romanian pilotage service for Maritime Ports Administration Constanta. I want to tell you a secret: it was a dream come true to be a leader that grows other leaders also on the shoreside, not only on the seaside, because, like every Captain, I grew up on ships, all my career started from there!

I truly appreciate your interest in Romanian Pilotage Service and hope we will meet again soon with more interesting news!

Thank you for your time, Esil
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