Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum by United Kingdom Pilots Association (Marine) (FUS 7)


  During the last 12 months approximately the UKPA(M) has been involved with submissions through various branches of the DETR, specifically in respect of the impact on Pilotage within the United Kingdom of future perceived shortages of qualified Marine officers from which we at present recruit the bulk of our future pilots. We would therefore wish to advise the committee of our views in respect of item 5 in the terms of reference dealing with future shortages of skilled personnel. The other items will we are sure to be covered by persons far more qualified to speak on them than ourselves.

  As you will be aware, following the MAIB report into "Sea Empress" a review of Pilotage was instigated by the DETR with the subsequent publication of the "Review of the 1987 Pilotage Act" this summer. Repeatedly during our discussions with Department representatives they refused to accept our claims that there was likely to be any foreseeable shortage of qualified personnel to train for Pilotage vacancies, which was stated in the Review document (Maintaining standards—supply of recruits paragraphs 11.11 and 11.12). We cannot accept these conclusions. Older candidates find it far more difficult to assimilate the changes to the skills required by a marine Pilot, and Royal Naval Personnel have even greater problems, as they are trained under a totally different regime.

  Only last week at our Conference in Middlesbrough Mr Andrew Burr from the Ports Division in respect of this matter stated "We do not accept there is a problem. However, should a shortfall arise "foreign nationals" can always be recruited with the appropriate qualifications". This is precisely what is happening at present in The British Merchant Navy and is the root of the problem. For the last 15 years British seafarers have gradually been replaced by foreign nationals even on vessels flying the red ensign. There has only been one reason for this, which was economic. We are now also aware that within the EC moves are underway for the free movement of labour. It is our belief that this must be considered in respect of item four of the terms of reference. It is our assertion British Pilots should be British Nationals; only then can the security of our ports and the continual movement of supplies be ensured in any strategic emergency. In the Falklands conflict many British seamen were brought off the dole to replace foreign nationals who refused to enter the war zone, only to lose their jobs on return. Unfortunately this pool is no longer there.

  Please find attached an extract from an address given to the International Pilotage Conference held in Brisbane on 11th-13th March 1998 by Admiral A A Mitropoulos, Director of the Marine Safety Division IMO.[63] I would draw your attention to his comments regarding "a rapidly approaching shortage of experienced senior officers". Secondly, I enclose a report recently submitted by this organisation to both the DETR and the Nautical Institute in respect of our concerns over this issue.[64]

  As you will note, it is our recommendation to move away from reliance on highly qualified seafarers to a more specific training system for pilots. Whilst we feel the Department have taken these recommendations on board they will be middle to long term and will probably not address the shortfall over the next few years.

N C E McKinney

Chairman U K P A (Marine)

30 November 1998

63   The Pilot, p. 6 October 1998. Back

64   Future Availability and Training of Pilots-UKPA(M) Working Group. Back

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