Pilot master relationship and ship casualties

pilot master relationship and ship casualties

In practice, the pilot will often con the ship on the master's behalf. a close working relationship between the master and pilot during berthing. years already in the navigation of ships, dealing with pilots in relationship with the master and bridge crew. vessel. BRM AND CASUALTY INVESTIGATION. Both the ship pilot and the master play an extremely important role to ensure safety and efficient navigation of the ship. Find out how important it.

If the ship's navigators and the pilot are not working from a common plan, if they do not have the same ''mental model'' of the transit — then BRM cannot work.


The practice follows a well established routine: Once on board and with only the most cursory exchange of information, the pilot takes the con and begins giving helm or course-to-steer orders. The ship's bridge team are left scrambling to fix the vessel's position and guess if the actions of the pilot are appropriate. We would like to propose an improved methodology A higher level of safety could be attained if pilotage passage plans were published thus allowing crews to incorporate these plans into their own berth to berth passage plans.

Any last minute changes due to dredging, waterway works, or some other event could quickly be communicated to the bridge team by the pilot upon boarding. As the vessel is being conned by the pilot, the ship's bridge team are now in a position to challenge if things do not look right.

pilot master relationship and ship casualties

Admittedly, not all pilotage areas are conducive to detailed pre-planning due to their highly dynamic and congested nature — but we maintain that these are far and few between. Of course, even if everyone is ''singing from the same songsheet'' accidents can still happen. As a pilot, this last technique involves telling the navigation team what your next move will be before doing it.

The papers listed below, some authored by SafeShip personnel and some by other concerned marine professionals, are dedicated to promoting this new pilotage paradigm. One of the recommendations of this study was that; ''The department of Transport, require that the pilotage authorities publish official passage plans for compulsory pilotage waters and make them available to masters to facilitate monitoring of the pilot's actions by the vessel's bridge team. Pilotage authorities will ignore these factors at their own peril.

Should you wish to peruse the report in its' entirety, please click here. In absolute terms this was a small accident, yet it is an indicator of systemic failure that could have resulted in consequences far more damaging. In order to bridge this gap, specific and detailed pilotage passage plans PPPs should be developed and published to enhance safety.

Questionnaire items were developed to gather more information on these issues. A draft questionnaire was produced and distributed to those in the marine industry perceived as having an interest for comment. Following the receipt of comments, the questionnaire was finalized and distributed to masters, OOWs and pilots. The questionnaire consisted of 20 multiple-choice questions. Since it was important that respondents provide answers based on their own experience and behaviour rather than simply reiterating what the rules and regulations requireeach question began with the prefix "In my experience The tabulation of the results of these questions is included in Appendix A.

Seven questions were designed to collect demographic information to help define the respondent sample and assist in statistical analysis of the results. A summary of the demographic information is included in Appendix B. The questionnaire was distributed to 1, individuals, including pilots, masters and ship officers.

Of the responses, The above samples are statistically adequate to draw some conclusions about these three segments of the marine community. The demographic profile of the respondents corresponds well with the population profile although the west-coast representation is low.

However, since the statistical characteristics of samples this size are stable, a larger number of respondents would make an appreciable change in the results only if those responses were extreme. After the responses to the questionnaire were received, 34 supplemental interviews were conducted in the Atlantic, Laurentian and Great Lakes pilotage regions with masters and pilots, representatives of government, pilotage authorities, unions, shipowners and ship operators to assist in understanding comments received and in interpreting the results.

In the light of the experiences reported in the questionnaire responses, recent marine occurrences were reviewed. The proceedings of selected symposia and conferences, marine journals and periodicals, foreign marine safety studies, reports, recommendations and practices relating to marine pilotage were also reviewed to help relate the Canadian experience to the international situation. A draft of the study, without recommendations, was provided to organizations in the marine industry for comment.

These organizations included pilotage authorities, pilots' corporations, associations representing pilots, masters, bridge officers and shipowners, as well as Transport Canada.

The comments received have been reviewed and the report has been modified, including the addition of safety recommendations. Perhaps attitudes must change. Things have come a long way in this industry, but co-operation is still lacking between bridge officers, masters and pilots.

Pilotage authorities are responsible for establishing compulsory pilotage areas, the licensing of pilots and pilotage certificate holders and the provision of related pilotage services. In compulsory pilotage waters, pilots provide local knowledge of the navigation conditions prevailing in the area.

The pilot is responsible to the master solely for the safe navigation of the vessel. The master retains overall responsibility for the safety of the vessel but relies on the pilot's local knowledge and ability to handle the vessel in a safe and efficient manner. Cooperation between pilot and master is essential.

Despite the duties and obligations of a pilot, his presence on board does not relieve the master or officer in charge of the watch from their duties and obligations for the safety of the ship.

Pilotage Issues

The master and the pilot shall exchange information regarding navigation procedures, local conditions and the ship's characteristics. The master and officer of the watch shall co-operate closely with the pilot and maintain an accurate check of the ship's position and movement. The TSB examined the Canadian experience with respect to these issues by asking questions about three particular elements of the operational relationship between pilots and bridge officers, namely: Each of these three elements of the operational relationship is examined in the sections that follow.

Ideally, the Master and his team will be aware of the pilot's intentions and be in a position to be able to query his actions at any stage of the passage. This can only be brought about by: The bridge team being aware of the difficulties and constraints of the pilotage area. The pilot being aware of the characteristics and peculiarities of the ship. The pilot being made familiar with the equipment at his disposal and aware of the degree of support he can expect from the ship's personnel.

The International Chamber of Shipping, in its publication Bridge Procedures Guide, recommends the following checklist to ensure an information exchange between master and pilot: Has a completed pilot card been handed to the pilot? Has the pilot been informed of the location of lifesaving appliances provided for his use? Have the proposed passage plan, weather conditions, berthing arrangements, use of tugs and other external facilities been explained by the pilot and agreed with the master?

Is the progress of the ship and the execution of orders being monitored by the master and the officer of the watch? As previously reported, the CCG states that: The importance of establishing positive communication when a pilot comes on board is recognized by most pilots, masters and OOWs.

It was reported by pilots during interviews that most deep sea ships have a well established routine to welcome the pilot on board. A ship officer is assigned to meet the pilot at the gangway and to escort him to the navigation bridge where he is introduced to the master.

Unfortunately, on some ships, the exchange between the pilot and the master is limited to a handshake. According to pilots interviewed, an increasing number of foreign masters consider the arrival of a pilot on board as a relief, a way to discharge some of their responsibilities, a chance to get some rest. Some of these masters will come back to the bridge only to sign the pilot's card on his departure. Pilots and masters agree that improving communication among bridge personnel is the key to safer marine operations and to a better understanding of each others' duties and responsibilities.

The TSB questionnaire asked whether communications between pilots and bridge personnel are effective. However, the responses to questions about the communication of specific information do not agree with this overall view of the effectiveness of communications.

Another question asked whether the pilot makes sure his orders are understood and acknowledged by the OOW. These differences might result from the fact that the pilots and masters do not always share a common idea of what is required.

While each group generally believes that it is providing adequate information, the other group might want more detailed information; the fact that both groups feel they are not getting enough information is evidence that draws into question the effectiveness of the communication. One master commented that, since the master is often on the bridge when a pilot has the con, the bridge officers will hesitate to speak up, probably relying on the master's experience and authority. We often take the pilot's word as gospel failing to realize that he is there as an advisor only.

The Board stated that "a general lack of interaction, coordination, and cooperation among the master, the officer of the watch and the pilot was evidenced in this occurrence.

pilot master relationship and ship casualties

Both the pilot and the second mate did their own calculations of the vessel's position, but they did not exchange information. M91C One pilot summed up the requirement for an exchange of technical information as follows: Pilots should be informed of each significant factor which may affect his proposed manoeuvring plan.

Vessel manoeuvring characteristics should be shown to the pilot and he should ensure he understands any special conditions which may affect him. He should always know who the senior officer of the bridge party is, including the master and be aware of watch changes, quartermaster changes etc. Similarly the pilot must inform the master of his intended manoeuvring plan and update this as necessary with any change in conditions.

Local regulations and communications requirements should be relayed to the master and officer of the watch. The sections following examine the exchange of specific information necessary for the safe conduct of a vessel. Several pilots commented that the information was always available when they asked for it, and two pilots noted that the information is less likely to be provided routinely on Canadian vessels than on foreign vessels. Pilots are aware that there might not always be well established procedures for the exchange of information between the pilot and master.

Most of the time, the pilot has to question the master or OOW to obtain essential information regarding the speed and manoeuvrability of the vessel. However, some pilots are reportedly reluctant in their willingness to offer information to ship masters; some masters and OOWs claim that the pilot, once on the bridge, seldom has time to refer to charts and provide details to the OOW, as he is occupied in conducting the vessel.

Canadian shipowners and operators expressed their opinions that their vessels' manoeuvring characteristics are well known to the Canadian pilots and that the master rarely has to provide information concerning the ship handling characteristics. Such cannot be said for foreign vessels. Some masters stressed that it is typical of pilots anywhere in the world to provide little information to the bridge officers and to act as if taking over the vessel.

It seems that few masters have at hand a specific table of their ship's characteristics to give to the pilot, as recommended by the International Chamber of Shipping4.

Master/Pilot relationship in focus at Nautical Institute seminar - SAFETY4SEA

They claim that the pilot may not have time to read the card, that he will have to leave the bridge at night to peruse it in order to find the particular information needed.

They indicate that verbal communication is much more effective and tends to establish contact between the bridge personnel. Masters claim that, as a safety measure before berthing the vessel, they always provide the pilot with ship handling data, and that, if the pilot neglects to brief them on his intended manoeuvres, they will ask for details.

It appears that both groups recognize the safety value of providing information on the manoeuvring characteristics of the vessel to the pilot but are operating on the basis that, if it is required, it will be provided.

Both groups might benefit from exposure to the attitudes and needs of the other group. Pilots felt that masters of foreign vessels who were regular visitors in Canadian waters know the pilotage waters. Unless there has been a change in the aids to navigation system or special berthing manoeuvres have to be attempted, there is no need for them to brief the masters on the details of the transit.

pilot master relationship and ship casualties

However, docking pilots and harbour pilots stated that they always brief masters on their intended manoeuvres. In addition, they normally inform the master of the ship of the Harbour Master's docking instructions. This perception that the masters and OOWs know well the local conditions and routines can lead both pilots and ship officers to take a lot for granted. Both groups can assume that they share a common mental model of the area and the plan, without having to review it together.

This situation can lead to the bridge personnel and the pilot surprising each other. In a dynamic situation, this can easily get out of hand. One person assuming that another shares the same assessment of a situation can take action which the other does not expect.

pilot master relationship and ship casualties

This places both of them in a difficult situation. Misunderstandings can build on each other, destroying mutual support or teamwork, and even leading to conflict. Prior discussion and agreement on the plan and mutual acceptance of duties and responsibilities, however, will usually foster teamwork.

The helmsman did not advise the pilot that he was experiencing difficulty in holding the vessel on course. The pilot did not question the helmsman about the position of the wheel relative to the rudder angle indicator. The OOW's method of monitoring the vessel's progress was not sufficiently precise to prevent the occurrence.

The Board stated that a general lack of interaction and coordination between bridge personnel and the pilot contributed to the accident. M91L In its report, the Board, discussing the errors that resulted in the vessel striking bottom, stated: In confined compulsory pilotage waters, a pilot's passage plan containing all key navigational elements such as course alteration points, wheel-over positions, and points where the accuracy of position fixing is critical, etc.

The Board found that the vessel's position was not double-checked with all available landmarks and navigation aids. The OOW was not monitoring the pilot's actions and did not recognize that the change of course was premature.

The OOW appeared to have placed total confidence in the pilot's navigation ability.

  • Marine Investigation Report
  • Master/Pilot relationship in focus at Nautical Institute seminar
  • International Best Practices for Maritime Pilotage

When the pilot passed his position report to VTS, the OOW logged the time, but he did not plot the position on the chart. Had the OOW been using a recognized, precise method of monitoring the vessel's progress, he might have been able to recognize the pilot's error and question the change-of-course order before it resulted in the grounding. The Board stated that there was no effective exchange of navigational and operational information including passage planning between the officers of the ship and the pilot.

M91L Pilots say that they do a good job of establishing effective relationships by sharing information on local conditions and plans. The masters and bridge officers, however, do not endorse the pilots' assessment of their own efforts.

Several pilots qualify their survey responses in their written comments saying that they provide complete information when it is needed or requested. The implication is that, much of the time, pilots believe that it is not needed or requested.

In fact, some pilots complain that, as soon as they take the con, masters often take advantage of their presence to leave the bridge to get some sleep.

When masters and pilots were interviewed, they confirmed that there is little exchange of information on board.

The Nautical Institute

They assume that the other party knows the necessary information; otherwise, they expect that the other party will take the initiative to ask for the information. When asked whether the pilot informs the master of his manoeuvring plan for the vessel, less than half Pilots commented that they always provide the plan unless it is a routine manoeuvre. Others said that they provide the information when they are asked. It is possible that the master reviews and approves the pilot's passage plan, or what he assumes, on the basis of experience, to be the plan, without communicating this to the pilot.

The pilot assumes that, if there are no objections, there are no problems. Truth be known, this is one area which must be improved upon as 'familiarity breeds contempt'. Foreign masters who are not familiar with local navigation conditions rely largely on the pilots and the verification of the pilot's passage plan becomes only a formality. At the same time, Canadian masters who are well aware of the local conditions may also pay little attention to the pilot's passage plan.

Knowledge of the pilot's passage plan would provide a focus for the OOW to effectively monitor the intentions of the pilot, the track and the progress of the vessel. Currently, it is not common practice for pilots to provide passage plans to ship's personnel or for the pilotage authorities to provide such plans to their pilots. The Board went on to recommend that: The Department of Transport require that the pilotage authorities publish official passage plans for compulsory pilotage waters and make them available to masters to facilitate monitoring of the pilot's actions by the vessel's bridge team.

M, December In its reply dated 22 Marchthe Department of Transport did not accept the recommendation, stating that the Pilotage Act does not provide for the Department of Transport to require the pilotage authorities to take action of the nature proposed. The Department further stated: It is the Authorities' and Department's view that piloting, by its nature, is a process requiring the pilot to constantly adjust to changing conditions throughout the voyage.

Course alteration points and wheel-over positions depend on a number of variables including the vessel's initial position, its speed, turning characteristics which vary according to its state of loading and trim, wind speed and direction, tidal flow and current, weather and ice conditions, limiting water depths and underkeel clearance, and other traffic in the generally restricted waterways concerned.

All of these factors cannot be foreseen in advance and a passage plan is therefore viewed as being of limited, if any, practical value. The Board is aware that, due to the dynamic nature of piloting a vessel, there will invariably be deviations from any detailed manoeuvring and passage plans.

However, that is not to say that the pilot should not discuss with the master or OOW his intentions for the conduct of the vessel. Such communication of intentions, be it in the form of a detailed or a general passage plan, could assist the OOW, particularly in restricted waters, to monitor and verify clearing bearings and radar safety ranges and contribute to the safety of the passage.

Therefore, hand-over briefings are essential so that both the master, having responsibility for the safety of the vessel, and the pilot, having responsibility for the conduct of the vessel, will be aware of all relevant factors which might affect the safe navigation of the vessel. The TSB determined that, while in a compulsory pilotage area with a pilot on board, the master retained the conduct of the vessel.

The master believed that he was better suited to carry out the manoeuvre because of his familiarity with the vessel, and he was counting on the pilot's advice during the manoeuvre. However, the master and the pilot had different ideas as to the helm and engine actions required to effect the turn. In this case, the master's ideas prevailed. The type and degree of support and advice to be given by the pilot were not determined in advance.

M90L In its report of this occurrence, the Board stated: An exchange of all relevant information and the intended transfer of the conduct of the vessel should also be established and agreed upon as soon as possible. Hand-over briefings are an essential component of teamwork and cooperation.

This can be by one common language internationally As standards of crewing have yet to see a real positive improvement, this problem will be ongoing until the shipping world exhausts the search of nations for ever cheaper crews. In fact, sincethere have been at least 24 marine occurrences involving foreign-flag vessels in Canadian waters where an inadequate knowledge of the operating language was identified as a contributing factor.

When interviewed, pilots expressed concern that, due to the increase in the manning of foreign vessels by crews from Third World countries, more communication difficulties would be encountered. On some foreign ships, the crew members can originate from several countries, and have communication difficulties among themselves. For example, on the British Columbia coast, a cruise vessel had a crew consisting of 24 nationalities, and it is reported that it is not unusual for cargo ships to have 8 or 10 different nationalities among the crew.

Many foreign ships now carry masters and officers who have practically no knowledge of English or French, rendering communications very difficult and requiring continuous surveillance by the pilot to ensure that orders are interpreted and carried out correctly.

The pilot is often left on the bridge with one officer and a helmsman and, at times, none of them can understand the others. The pilot then has no choice but to stand by the helmsman to make sure his orders are executed correctly.

In addition, the pilot effectively becomes the Communications Officer, dealing with Vessel Traffic Services. These factors detract from the pilot's ability to give his total attention to the safe navigation of the vessel. Pilots stated that the major problem in pilotage anywhere in the international scene is the language barrier.

They could not see how the language problem could be solved in the near future. They fear that it will again be a case of the marine industry experiencing accidents before any positive action is taken and regulations implemented. Despite this requirement and the demonstrated inability of some watchkeeping officers to converse in or to understand English, many IMO Member States continue to issue certificates of competency to individuals with substandard proficiency in the language.

It should be noted that in the Act, if the crew have insufficient knowledge of English and do not have a common language, the ship shall be deemed unseaworthy and shall not proceed to sea. The Board believes that, for international shipping, a working knowledge of the English language for safe navigation is necessary to use nautical publications, to understand meteorological and safety messages, and to effectively communicate with other vessels or shore stations.

The Board is concerned that the inability of mariners to effectively communicate safety information continues to contribute to serious occurrences. The Department of Transport, working through the International Maritime Organization, seek stronger international measures to ensure that Member States, when issuing certificates of competency, adhere to the standard of language knowledge prescribed by the STCW.

M, issued April In its response to this recommendation, the Department of Transport stated its agreement with the intent of this recommendation. Lawrence River under winter navigation conditions. The TSB determined that the contributing factors of the occurrence were that the pilot fell asleep and neither the pilot nor the OOW effectively monitored the vessel's progress in an area of strong current. The practice of OOWs relying on pilots and rarely questioning a pilot's actions is quite widespread.

The procedures in place on the bridge allowed the pilot and the OOW to operate independently.

pilot master relationship and ship casualties

The opportunity for teamwork to maximize performance was not exploited. A greater degree of interaction between the pilot and the OOW could have resulted in the effective monitoring of the vessel's progress.

It also could have alerted the OOW to potential problems and might have enabled him to initiate appropriate action. The same results were evident in the response to the question which asked whether the OOW plots the vessel's position regularly when the pilot has the conduct of the vessel. When asked whether the pilot assists the OOW in monitoring the vessel movements, all three groups agreed that generally pilots do not assist in this function.

Again, there are differences between foreign and Canadian vessels. As well, pilots note that there is little use in plotting positions in restricted areas and narrow channels as in the Seaway. One pilot wrote that, in his experience, OOWs are most likely to plot positions after the pilot has changed course. One master comments that, although OOWs should monitor the vessel movements, some have become remiss in this duty. When interviewed, pilots affirmed that there are few vessels whose OOWs monitor the pilot, plot the vessel's position regularly or ask questions if they are not comfortable with the action taken.

Pilots express a sense of being alone and solely responsible when on the bridge of some ships and stated that most officers do not bother to plot the vessel's position but simply ask the pilot for the position at the end of their watch, in order to pass it over to the next OOW.

Many feel that they are not being supported or monitored by the bridge personnel. The bridge officers, however, claim that they do monitor the ship's progress and plot positions on the chart. The Board believes that close and continuous monitoring of a vessel's progress along the pre-planned track is essential for the safe conduct of the vessel.

I have had several incidents when the Captain gave the helmsman different orders than I gave him.