The London P&I Club says it has seen a number of fixed and floating object
damage cases in recent months involving ships with pilots on board which
have underlined previously noted concerns about collision claims in which
pilot error has played a contributory role.
In the latest issue of its StopLoss Bulletin, the Club, while recognising
the practical difficulties and sensitivities that may arise, says the
incidents serve as reminders of the importance of masters being ready to
question pilots in cases where the manoeuvres being undertaken appear not to
be progressing as planned or expected and if they appear to be creating risk
of an accident.
It adds, "This is particularly so since reports suggest that, in more than
one of the cases, although the masters were uncomfortable with the pilots'
proposed manoeuvres, concerns were not raised until the casualties had
become inevitable. The large claims that arose in these cases may well have
been avoided had the masters intervened at an earlier stage."
Although concerned about the unduly large number of accidents involving
pilots and the absence of regulation of the profession that shipowners
themselves face and readily comply with, the Club acknowledges that the vast
majority play a very positive role in contributing to safe navigation.
Elsewhere in StopLoss, the Club reports a 'near miss' in which a collision
between a bulk carrier entered with the Club and a passenger ferry in the US
was avoided only as a result of the very prompt actions taken by the master
and pilot of the bulker. The bulker was proceeding under Mississippi
pilotage when a local ferry crossed into its path. Efforts to alert the
ferry proved unsuccessful. Only urgent measures deployed by the bulker's
master and the pilot ensured that a serious casualty was avoided.
The Club says the incident emphasises the need for very close co-operation
and vigilance on the bridges of ships navigating in heavy traffic areas.