Thursday, March 22, 2012

What is a marine Pilotage job ?

The job of a marine pilot emerges from not much olden days of sea faring. Ships which would sail long voyages at sea would often come to suffer wreckage just when the land had been sighted and the ships in a position about to be reaching home. It is in those times that a feeling prevailed of the increased risk to ships when making a land-fall. That is how the job of marine pilotage came into existence. Even now when we look at a marine chart we can clearly notice the abundance of wreck sites but along or near the coast. The job of a pilot therefore entailed to safely navigate a ship into the harbour while the ship has arrived to the coast after a long sea voyage. Over the years, the pilotage job modified to contain up the task of main communication link between the ship crew of one linguistic set up , and the shore crew on the assisting tug boats, the moorings crew, and the VTMS, who all are of an other linguistic set-up.
The pilot required the knowledge of local weather, tides, current flows, depth of waters, and the sea routes to the ship safely to her berth. Although the new modern technology has come around to provide widely to everyone and that too very precisely through the on board charts and publications , the knowledge of sea routes inside the harbour, the tidal data and the current data, - the communication task is still much dependent on the pilots. English language , even as a lingua franca, leaves some gaps between two people when some long-speech concepts have to be transmitted.
The use of navigational aids while the ship is at sea causes the ship crew to become habitual of working with the help of instruments. This angle opens another reason for why a pilot becomes necessary for a modern and sophisticated ship when making a land fall. A pilot is expected to be able to navigate a ship around even with abundant failure in her navigational instruments. This, however, does not apply to the engine machinery- the steering gear, the anchors and the power on main engines. Pilotage is not wonder machines, and thus as a minimal, require these machinery at their disposal for a safe and smooth delivery of their task.
 Overtime, as the ship design progressed and the economic conditions of the world transportation made indentations into ship design, the ship's hull grew bigger and larger while the engine and steering powers remained same to cut on the cargo transportation cost. This savings ofcourse involved considerations of a compulsory pilotage which such design ships would require when coming to land. As the traffic congestion inside the harbour increased the pilotage job become even more necessary to help large ships pass by each other in the narrow channel space made available to all of them. The narrow channel occurred both for the need of increasing the number of ships inside the harbour and the volume of cargo on a single ship being brought inside the harbour. The large volume ships are deep-drafted and thus more prone to running aground. The channel space required for their operations is often very minimal inside most of the harbours in the world.
 The count of ships caused the harbour space to become crowded whereas the deep-draft caused the availability of safe water curtailed to only a specific route.
These two limiting conditions, then, led to the emergence of the VTMS services where a shore-based monitor would be able to provide an assistance to the ships crew and the pilots on them, an information on ship's position of it's own and of other ships around in the harbour. Such information are vital when a ship has too many limiting parameters owing to her draft, and poor manouvreablity, so that the ship keeps herself inside safe channels and to arrange, prudently in advance, her route to help safe passing of another ship which also has the same limiting conditions.
 The relationship between a ship's master and the pilot, in history, also appears to be from the same story. It was a ship's quotation from a shore based mariner with good knowledge of local conditions, to come and help the ship reach into the harbours. The navigation charts and their updating services had not yet taken life in all parts and corners of the earth. The Masters required a pilot urgently and badly. The entire fruit of the long sea voyage couldget destroyed when the ship was just about to home in. Thus, a pilot was generously rewarded by a master for his great help. The traditions continue to this date, albeit in the form of corruption-demand by the pilot , of cigerrete packs, wine bottles or even the money.
 New age pilotage has taken lots of changes as the technology changed. Pilots nowadays board far away from land , for deeper ships carrying dangerous cargoes, to take control well before the ship comes into the waters which can be termed dangerous appropriate for the size of the ship. Bad weather conditions, strong tidal flows, inability to control the steering of a ship when she is slow speed, these all contribute towards the demand for a helicopters-based pilotage services.
 The new age pilotage is far walked job from its archaic forefathers. It is nowadays a compulsory requirement for ships in all ports globally, and a means of giving employment to ship Masters who desire to become settled on shores. The charterers avail of the pilots to keep the ships safe when the ship captain is newly promoted or over occupied in other jobs such as cargo operations, communications with business people, just while the ship is reaching to shore. Pilots unwittingly are a part of their ship's navigational team when the ship owners design the ship's manning team. Even when the role of Master and Pilot keeps the edge to the master, because the services have to be rendered to his satisfaction (because by origin pilotage was voluntary), the compulsory nature of pilotage in the harbours has caused the shipowners to take slight undue advantage of this fact, mostly by way of reducing the manning team, apparently by increase of work load, removal of radio officers, and even a saving of navigational charts and publications and the updation services as pilots are expected to be aware of it and possessing one of their own. the court verdicts, in the new conditions of pilotage as a compulsory service, are expected to hold the pilot also as a responsible person for ship's navigational blunders when inside the harbours.