MARINE pilotage services provider Auriga Group is commencing pilotage services at the Port of Geelong starting today, 1 September.

Geelong is the 15th port/route in Auriga’s Australian network and the group’s second in Victoria after the Port of Melbourne, where the company commenced pilotage operations in 2017.

Auriga Group managing director Trent Lonsdale said now that the group has demonstrated capability in servicing the Port of Melbourne, the time is right for a “staged and managed entry” into Geelong.

“This important port has been on our radar for several years, and our entry into this market has primarily been driven by customer demand for competitive, safe pilotage services at sustainable rates,” he said.

“Like our entry into the Port of Melbourne pilotage market, our entry into the Port of Geelong will be well managed, risk assessed, and measured, taking into account all of the well-established Maritime Safety Victoria regulatory training standards and industry best practice.”

Auriga said its pilots team based in Victoria is on track to employ 24 staff by Christmas, including 10 marine pilots operating on the water in Melbourne and Geelong.

Comprehensive training

The company said it adheres to an extensive training program, which takes just on four years to safely complete, regardless of previous pilotage experience gained in other ports.

This, the group said, ensures that its marine pilots have an in-depth knowledge of all the various local port risks and controls, and it ensures they are absolute subject-matter experts in the complex ports in which they operate.

Auriga said its training standards and knowledge transfer process for Victorian ports have been achieved through hundreds of real-time voyages on water, complemented by use of simulators for specific elements of the training program that cannot be safely performed in real time on the water.

Mr Lonsdale said, “Innovative and modern technology supports overall training objectives but cannot substitute pilot/mentor on-water training systems which we continue to perform and rely on as the foundation of our training plans for all pilots.

“In our view, any move to rely solely on simulator-based training models introduces unacceptable risks for the ship owners, infrastructure owners, and the wider community.”

Mr Lonsdale said, “At Auriga Group we are 100% committed to ensuring we keep our customers’ ships safe, port infrastructure where we operate free from damage, and the environment in which we sail pristine and free from pollution for the safety and benefit of local communities.

“We look forward to working with our current and prospective customers in the Port of Geelong, and further ports in the near future.”

In August, Auriga Group – which incorporates Australian Reef Pilots, Australian Pilotage Group and others – partnered with Brisbane Marine Pilots. And, in April, the company increased its Mackay-based pilot and helicopter operations to support expansion of pilotage services in Hydrographers Passage.