DAY two of AMPI’s Regional Ports and Pilotage Conference unpacked passage planning, towage and pilotage in Papua New Guinea and pilot transfer arrangements.

The regional conference kicked off in Port Moresby on Tuesday this week, bringing together marine pilotage communities from around Australasia for some deeply insightful and practical discussions.

PacTow’s Richard Hayka and PNG Ports’ Joji Takape outlined some of the challenges of towage and pilotage in PNG, where huge LNG projects are taking shape and where some ships, in certain ports, have to berth without the assistance of tugs.

PNG is made up of 600 islands and a coastline of more than 17,000 kilometres, Mr Takape said. There are six compulsory pilotage ports throughout the country, nine pilotage ports, five private facilities and 11 pilotage service providers.

Lae is the busiest port in PNG, but Mr Takape highlighted the port of Buka in Bougainville as one of the most challenging ports for pilotage.

“There are no tugs available in Buka; pilots are berthing ships there without tugs,” he said.

Townsville marine pilot Kate Delisky, in a presentation on pilot transfer arrangements, walked delegates through the risks of pilotage, accidents in Australian waters and the measures implemented in response to those incidents.

“We continue to have pilot ladder fatalities and major life changing injuries around the world. And it is continually due to quality, improper rigging and maintenance or lack of,” she said.

Ms Delisky shared the example of AAL Dampier; in August 2022 the manropes parted as the pilot disembarked, causing an accident which seriously injured the pilot. The incident led to new arrangements picked up by various port authorities around Australia.

“Unfortunately, we’re still a bit of a reactive industry, like many, and it takes something pretty major to see change, but we are finally seeing change,” she said.

Other sessions throughout the day included big data in the context of pilotage, a look at pilotage training in the Australian navy and the lessons learned from a bad day on the water.

The conference concluded with drinks on the waterfront, where crowds formed around pubs’ television screens to watch State of Origin.  

Further coverage of AMPI’s Regional Ports and Pilotage Conference will appear in the DCN magazine.