Video

Riding with the Savannah Pilots


published on 25 October 2020 1116 -

Found on YouTube. Created by "FL92002".
Over the course of 4 days this August, I was afforded the opportunity and privilege of riding with the Savannah Bar Pilots for an article I was writing for a major maritime magazine. The pilots are given the responsibility of boarding a vessel in the Atlantic Ocean and safely navigating the vessel up the Tybee Road 9 (a name for the shipping lane that leads into the Savannah River), into the Savannah River, and into the Port of Savannah. The same is done in reverse when a ship is outbound for the Atlantic. In my time there, I got on the pilot boat Georgia a number of times and followed the pilots as they got on large ships, such as container ships, break bulk cargo ships, tankers, roll on/roll off ships, and more. In this compilation, we ride the pilot boat out at 37 knots to meet three different ships: 2 inbound container ships and an outbound tanker. In the first scenes, we're en-route to the first ship, which is the container ship Lena-S. Originally, she was the APL Indonesia, but she is now out as a chartered vessel. She was built in 2010 by Jiangsu Yangzijiang Shipbuilding Co. Ltd, China. Her maximum capacity is 4253 TEU, or twenty foot equivalent units. She weighs in at just over 50000 tons, has a length of 860 feet, and a breadth of 108 feet. As we nuzzle up to her port side, the captain of the pilot boat masterfully eases her alongside and matches the 10 knots that the Lena-S is making, so that the pilot and his apprentice can climb the Jacob's Ladder and the gangway to board the ship. After that, we jettison away and await our next inbound arrival. The next ship we see is the container ship NYK Deneb. NYK Deneb was built in 2007 at Hyundai Heavy Industries Ltd. Co, South Korea. Her maximum capacity is 4882 TEU. She weighs in at just under 66000 tons and she is 965 feet in length with a breadth of 108 feet. Once we drop another pilot off with her, we make a quick turn around and meet the outbound tanker ship Stolt Island. She was built in 2009 at Nikolaev Shipyard Okean in Nikolaev, Ukraine. She weighs in at 43593 tons, is 600 feet in length and 108 feet in breadth. As we pull up along her starboard side, we again match her speed so that the off-going pilot can safely climb down the Jacob's Ladder. The work that these pilots do is quite dangerous, as they have to board and disembark from moving vessels at all hours on any given day in all types of weather. Their work is extremely vital to the movement of the vessels, as well as the loading and offloading of their contents. A little bit about the pilot boat Georgia. She was built in 2013 by Kvichak Marine in Seattle. She is 64 feet in length, has a draft of three feet, and she is powered by two 12VM72 MTU engines, with a rated 1450 horsepower each, for a total of 2900 horsepower. She is propelled by a pair of Hamilton H521 water jets, and she can make 37 knots. She is set up to carry two crew members, usually two pilot captains, and seven pilots. There is a day galley, a head, and a bunk room for four pilots. Many thanks go to the Savannah Pilots Association for allowing me onto their boat, as well as the ability to ride on multiple shifts, interview the crew members, as well as helping to set up boarding of other vessels. In the next video, we'll be aboard a vessel headed outbound for the ocean. Stay tuned. If you have any questions about the video, feel free to message me. Comments are welcome.
Savannah, USA

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RC
Ricardo Caballero Vega Panama Canal Pilots Association, Panama
on 15 July 2021, 22:50 UTC

I am really glad that you have got a glimpse at what marine pilots do, especially at Savannah. Some of the ships that call at Savannah also transit through the Panama Canal, like the NYK DENEB. Regarding this ship, I am almost certain that her beam is not 108 feet but 106 feet, since the latter is the maximus allowable beam at the Panama Canal old locks is precisely 106 feet, and I have piloted her a few times.

You did an outstanding work making the video, and I am sure it will serve the purpose of portraying a day in a pilots life.

Thanks for sharing, and thanks to the Savannah Pilots for allowing the video be made.

Captain R. Caballero
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