Botany Bay Ship Pilot Training

Friday, November 14, 2008

Botany Bay was replicated for an Australian-first marine emergency training exercise that Sydney Pilot Service commissioned for four of its pilots.

The wholly owned subsidiary of Sydney Ports Corporation recently conducted the new commercial Advanced Manned Model Pilot Training program at the Australian Ship Handling Centre at Port Ash.

Participants had to pilot model ships, 1/25th the size of an actual ship, through simulated emergencies within the replicated Botany Bay. The bay was recreated using buoys, beacons, piles and temporary wharf lines.

The model ships were adjusted to simulate a typical container ship with similar visibility from the ship’s bridge. Where required the models were assisted by one or two tugs.

“The three day course was designed to create simulated emergency scenarios that a marine pilot may experience whilst piloting a ship into Botany Bay,” said Captain Robin Heath, Harbour Master at Sydney Ports Corporation.

“We created scenarios to simulate vessel and tug break downs, tug line failures and incorrect application of helm,” Heath continued.

The three day course in advanced ship handling took approximately six months to develop. 

To qualify for the course accredited pilots needed to have previously attended a basic manned model course and attained an additional three to five years piloting experience.

“This is the first time an Australian port has conducted advanced manned model training for its pilots in Australia. It’s similar to what airlines do when they put their experienced pilots into the flight simulator and simulate unusual conditions,” Captain Heath said. 

“Being able to safely enhance our pilot’s skill sets under different environmental conditions and emergency situations has been an invaluable tool to build their confidence and capability.

“We’ll definitely run more advanced manned model training programs in the future to further develop and extend our pilot’s skill sets,” Captain Heath concluded.

Captain Cliff Beazley, a pilot of 27 years experience and Chief Trainer at Port Ash, said “It was a great privilege to develop and run Australia’s first advance course for commercial shipping pilots. Sydney Ports Corporation should be commended for their vision in developing this program.”


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