If your ship is arriving at a strange port, how should the master consider the forthcoming relationship with the pilot? It is an important question, in that the ship will be at its most vulnerable, no matter what port she is approaching. Every experienced shipmaster has heard cautionary tales about pilots that frightened their customers half to death with their over-exuberant ship-handling and just as there are more, or less competent, masters, so it might be suggested that there is the same sort of graduation in the world of pilotage.

It could be argued that a ship with the pilot aboard is no place for anyone to relax, but it is something of a comfort for that master approaching a strange port, if he knows that the pilotage and Vessel Traffic Management System conform to a certain internationally recognised standard.

The International Standard for Maritime Pilot Organisations has been in operation for some years, and is gradually accrediting more members around the world. Some of the biggest ports in the world have pilot organisations so accredited and it is the intention, eventually, to see the standard given global recognition, providing transparency to ship owners and other stakeholders about the safety and quality they can count on when their ships call.

The ISPO is a recognised industry code that properly assesses the systems under which  the individual pilots work along with their organisations, in the ports where they operate. A recent addition to the list of accredited ports is the Port of Cork, which has been issued with its ISPO certificate after being accredited by the classification society Bureau Veritas.

In the case of the Irish port, said Philippe Donche-Gay of Bureau Veritas Marine Offshore Division, the industry code was adopted “as a means of building continuous improvement into its pilotage operations”. The ISPO certification for the Port of Cork covers twelve pilots who handle mixed traffic of more than 9 million tonnes of cargo and 56 cruise ships calls during the year just ending.

The standard is devised to recognise that there are numerous pilotage organisations in the world, each dealing with local and national administration and laws, along with the different circumstances of each port. It provides sufficient autonomy for the individual requirements of each pilot station, while containing general provisions for all organisations with which they must comply.

To achieve the standard,  the pilotage will have to demonstrate management of functional and documentary requirements, the scope of its management responsibility, its arrangements for recruitment, training and qualification, its pilot and logistic operations, emergency preparedness and the way it relates to its customers. It must show how it quantifies and manages risk, incidents and accidents and provide means of measuring and analysing improvement.  The process is a blend of mandatory provisions, guidelines and uniform standards, this including the provision of a management and control manual. It has been suggested that ISPO contributes to a better run , quality pilotage operation that is transparent in its standards.

Author: The Watchkeeper            Source: BIMCO

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