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

Supplementary note to questions (P 05A)

  Q.187.  It is difficult to understand how competition in Pilotage will operate in ports. We believe that in the UK there is adequate competition between different ports and that the issue of Pilotage Exemption Certificates is an adequate form of competition for a pilot service in a port.

  Competition in Pilotage services will have an adverse effect on the operation of the Port Marine Safety Code. It is unclear how the EU Directive will affect Pilotage if at all. The UK ports' groups appear to be opposed to the Directive. We consider the UK government should protect the Port Marine Safety Code.

  Q.197.  While it is difficult to prove, we consider that the number of accidents in our ports is kept to a minimum because of the expertise and skill of the pilot on board a vessel and the dedication of the pilot to the safety of the vessel he is piloting.

  Q.198/Q.199.  Prior to the enactment of the Pilotage Act 1987, on 1 October 1988 all UK pilots with a very few exceptions operated in an independent self-employed role. The 1987 Act introduced a situation which may pilots found foreign to their previous role. The 1987 Act worked as intended by the government of that time. Pilotage was deregulated and placed completely in the hands of the Competent Harbour Authorities (CHA's) who were able to act as judge and jury on all Pilotage matters. Many pilots felt that they had lost their independent role of serving the master and ship (I refer you to the Cavendish Judgment 1993).

  Pilots do believe we should have close co-operation and a good working relationship with a CHA, but this has not been the case in many ports particularly where the pilots become employees of the CHA, although not entirely. This can be judged by the number of arbitration hearings held under Section 5 of the 1987 Act to settle disputes between pilots and CHA's.

  An act of Pilotage can often be dangerous and difficult and a marine pilot does not need to have difficulties with a CHA on his mind when carrying out his Pilotage role.

  Q.200.  We believe that with the introduction of the Port Marine Safety Code there will now be a more factual record of near-misses, and disregard of proper navigation rules.

  Q.121.  Again I would emphasise that the very high standard of safety in our ports has much to do with the professionalism of the pilots in our ports.

  Q.122.  We would wish to raise a number of additional points regarding the issue of Pilotage Exemption Certificates. The UKMPA attitude is not to oppose the issue of PEC's provided they are issued to suitable persons in a proper and analytical way;

    —  Qualifying trippage to and from a port should be varied (eg time, weather) and sufficient.

    —  EC's should only be issued the following assessment and examination by a properly constituted examination board. It is wrong to assume that a bona fide master or 1st mate is proficient in handling his own ship.

    —  An adequate knowledge of the English language is essential. This is often not the case. PEC's are sometimes issued on the recommendation of the shipowner.

    —  We would suggest that PEC's are available particularly to facilitate ferry companies and very regular traders to a port and not for irregular visitors to a port who retain a PEC by virtue of very low trippage required by a CHA. Milford Haven is not the only example of a low requirement for trippage. Again we emphasise that a CHA is judge and jury on PEC requirements under the 1987 Act. There are many more PEC's issued post-1987 Act, but many PEC's are issued for short term commercial reasons. We have knowledge that many masters are forced into obtaining PEC's through clauses in the charter party when the master believes it would be prudent to utilise a pilot because of such issues as fatigue when on a short sea service or the fact that he is also the chief engineer on board or through shortfalls in crewing.

    —  We consider it is imperative that National Standards and Guidelines for PEC's are introduced.

  Many of the above issues also apply to vessels totally exempted from Pilotage by CHA's. Exemptions from compulsory pilots are not considered in an analytical manner and it is very often these vessels which could possible never have visited a port previously which cause difficulty to regulated traffic.

  Q.207.  It would be more correct to say "eg a ship may arrive later than its ETA on the very limits of the tidal window".

  It is also fair to say that commercial pressure has been placed on pilots to reduce the number of tugs used to berth or unberth a ship, when it is not considered prudent to do so.

  Q.208.  It is perhaps worth noting that in the case of the Sea Empress, a second pilot would have been on board if practices prior to the 1987 Act had been continued.

  It is also reasonable to state that since the 1987 Act was introduced some shipping companies have operated what can only be considered a "private" pilot service, where a PEC holder moves from chartered ship to chartered ship regardless of the type, size, flag or crew nationality of the ship, and solely to carry out Pilotage duties although signed on the different vessels' articles as supernumerary to the normal crew. We consider this as "PEC abuse". Representation has been made on this issue. It is also contrary to the supposition that the master is in the best position to handle his own vessel, as the PEC holder has the conduct.

  With reference to Mr Graveson's evidence we believe that he means by a long and hazardous voyage that the master may have been on the bridge for a long time owing to fog or severe weather conditions.

  Q.123.  Further to this question—the London Pilots objected strongly to the introduction of Pilotage Direction No. 5, which released a number of vessels from compulsory Pilotage. London pilots have indicated to the UKMPA that that has lead to an increase in incidents involving non-compulsory ships. A similar situation has occurred on the Humber. Representation by the pilots and UKMPA to the CHA's were ignored.

  Q.128.  The teeth referred to was the belief that a Regulator or Regulating body should be appointed for Marine Safety. It has also been proposed that Reserve Powers would be given to the Secretary of State to give the PMSC some bite, but to date these reserve powers have not been granted.

  There has always been the confusing grey area in our ports where responsibility on safety lies, noting the memorandum of understanding between the H&SE, MCA and MAIB. H&SE is well aware that the safety record in our ports from the waterline shoreward is very poor.

  Q.229.  Representatives from several ports have been heard to say that the PMSC is a "wish list". This is why we believe the PMSC needs "teeth" to make it effective.

  Q.242.  Short Sea Shipping should be encouraged and expanded. As a example a small feeder container ship can carry hundreds of containers between two ports in relatively short time. This would take hundreds of lorries of our overcrowded roads.

  If I may briefly refer to the other evidence submitted.

    —  It would appear that complicated planning permission applications are inhibiting the development of our ports, Dibden Bay Southampton being an example. This is a disadvantage in relation to our European neighbours.

    —  Referring to Mr Everard's evidence (Q. 345.) a Pilot has the conduct of the vessel under UK law (A. 742 Merchant Shipping Act 1894) and is not an advisor as he states.

N C E McKinney

Chairman UKMPA

27 March 2001

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