Thursday 19th Jul, 2018

SPECIAL REPORT: Pilotage

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THE Australasian Marine Pilots Institute (AMPI) is an integral part of the fabric of pilotage in Australia, from advocating to government for necessary safety measures to facilitating pilot training.

One of the more important programs the organisation runs is a peer support program.

AMPI vice-president Neil Farmer said if any pilot or their family has any sort of trouble, they can contact a trained peer support person.

“They might have had an incident, they might have been bullied, they might be going through a marriage separation – anything, in each port, there are peer supporters that have been trained and they’re identified, and they’re a phone call away,” he said.

Mr Farmer said AMPI uses some of its membership funds to pay a retainer to a psychologist to whom pilots can be referred to if they have problems that go beyond the abilities of the peer support person.

“You might see all these cushy pilots and think what have they got to worry about?” Mr Farmer said.

“Like anybody they have their own issues and the psychological consequences of having an accident or an incident, or a grounding or they bump the wharf or something like that, it can be enormous.

“Getting through things like that, hopefully that’s where our peer support program can hopefully help people.”

Continuous training

AMPI also takes pilot training seriously, and is now trialling a continuous professional development, or CPD, program.

In a written response to queries submitted by the DCN, AMPI said CPD programs are recognised as an integral activity of any well-run, conscientious organisation or profession.

The AMPI system assigns points to individuals for completing specific activities in three categories: professional evaluation; knowledge and skills; and emergency response.

AMPI’s written response outlined the benefits of its program:

  • Vessels who engage the services of an AMPI certified pilot can be confident that the pilot that they have engaged has maintained the skills and the current knowledge deemed necessary by their peers to enable them to perform their duties to the highest possible standard;
  • Having pilots with current CPD certification helps pilotage organisations meet aspects of their due diligence requirements;
  • It takes the burden of setting CPD standards off the local employer/regulator who often are not qualified to set such standards;
  • Employers, port authorities and regulators are able to monitor pilots CPD currency; and
  • Industry peers set standards.

Mr Farmer said the program had been under development for a long time.

“It’s still a work in progress, but it’s a good program; it’s user-friendly and we’re very proud of our program and it’s working well,” he said.

Workshops

One of the elements of the CPD program is regular workshops put on by AMPI, which take place in various locations around the country.

The most recent one took place this November in Fremantle, with the next one scheduled for next year in Darwin.

Mr Farmer said the workshops have been drawing the attention of pilots from around the region.

“We’re getting pilots from New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and all sorts of places,” he said.

“We’re attracting people who come to see what’s going on now and what’s likely to happen in the future – we’ve been talking about pilot training and autonomous vessels, for example.”

Autonomous vessels are on the agenda for the upcoming AMPI 2019 Pilotage and Port Logistics Conference to be held in Sydney in late October of 2019.

AMPI also works as an advocate for pilots and issues that affect them, with one particularly concerning issue being the appearance of new pilot ladders that say they are “certified”, but are in fact not.

“It would appear a number of unscrupulous firms are manufacturing and selling these ladders to unsuspecting ship owners or purchasing agents who see a certificate and believe it is fine,” AMPI’s written statement read.

“We, of course take this very seriously and urge our members to insist on compliance with SOLAS V/23 and report non-compliant arrangements to AMSA through their SVHH reporting system or the AMSA Pilot App currently being trialled by AMPI members.

“Anybody purchasing pilot ladders would be well advised to look closely at suppliers before committing to purchase.”

Wealth of knowledge

Pilots have the tendency to be overlooked in the larger maritime and seafaring industry, Mr Farmer said, but pilots have a wealth of experience and knowledge to offer the wider industry.

“The collective of Australian pilots, which we try to consolidate in AMPI, is made up of a lot of master mariners who have been at sea for 20 years or more – a lot of people with a lot of experience,” he said.

Mr Farmer plans to ramp up the committee system in AMPI, identifying people with expertise, then making that expertise available to industry.

“We’re not there just to further our own agenda; we’d like to see AMPI as no different to Shipping Australia or Ports Australia – a collective of people, with a particular profession,” he said.

“People can benefit from a relationship with us.”

From the print edition November 30, 2017

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