Marine Pilotage National Occupational Standards (NOS)

These National Occupational Standards detail the competencies required of a Marine Pilot as defined within the Port Marine Safety Code.

Masters of ships arriving in ports often need assistance to make sure they can enter and exit the port safely. This assistance is provided by Marine Pilots.

Marine Pilots would normally board a moving vessel in order to assume responsibility for navigating the vessel safely in and out of the harbour. The pilot works very closely with the captain and other members of the crew, and needs to take account of many factors such as tides, weather, and the size, weight and operational characteristics of the vessel, in the course of their duties.

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Unit 1 - Plan an act of pilotage

  • A pilot will be expected to take on board the vessel a previously prepared Port Pilotage Plan (PPP). Each port may have its own basic PPP, to which must be added other relevant data. The pilot will therefore need to acquire up-to-date and relevant information before joining the vessel. On boarding the vessel, he may be made aware of additional factors, such as the vessel’s handling characteristics. These may require the PPP to be amended.
  • The Master should have already prepared his own passage plan for the vessel. This plan will be augmented and amended by the PPP as necessary, so that a comprehensive passage plan is readily understood and agreed by all parties.
  • As the act of pilotage progresses, the passage plan may need to be reviewed and adjusted by the bridge team, which includes the pilot.
  • As much information as possible on the vessel to be piloted should be ascertained, including any comments by pilots who have previously piloted the vessel, reports from other ports, or the MCA.

Unit 2 - Embarking and disembarking

  • Pilot transfer can take place when the vessel is underway, at anchor, moored, or alongside a berth. Transfer may be made by pilot boat, helicopter, directly from the shore, or from another vessel. The safety of the pilot and other personnel is paramount, requiring effective communication and co-operation between all parties.
  • This unit is in three parts, covering necessary preparations for embarkation or disembarkation by boat, transfer to or from a vessel that is underway, and transfer when the vessel is at anchor, moored or alongside.

Unit 3 - Assess standards on the piloted vessel

  • It will be of assistance to pilots if they are able to gain an impression of standards on board the vessel, both before embarkation and once on board. If inadequacies or poor standards are observed, the pilot will be alerted to potential problems that may be experienced. The port pilotage plan should be revised as necessary and, if appropriate, consideration should be given to aborting the pilotage passage.
  • This unit is in three parts, covering the vessel’s conduct, the crew’s competence and the vessel’s condition, and also sets out how the pilot should respond to any deficiencies found as a result of the evaluation of the vessel and its crew.

Unit 4 - Work effectively with the bridge team

  • In order to ensure a safe passage, it is essential that there should be close co-operation between the Pilot and others in the bridge team. This will involve an early exchange of information. It is vitally important that the Master/Pilot relationship is clearly established.
  • An integral aspect, which helps to ensure a successful passage, involves an ongoing assessment of the capabilities of the bridge team. The conduct of the Master, the language in use and the team’s general willingness and competence all contribute to this.
  • The Pilot will need to integrate fully within the bridge team, taking into account any deficiencies which may have been observed.
  • This unit is in three parts, covering the exchange of information on arrival, assessing the capabilities of the bridge team, and integrating with bridge team members.

Unit 5 - Liaise and communicate within the port

  • This unit concerns liaison between the pilot and the rest of the port team, including tugs, Port Control, mooring party, Harbour Master, operatives, and other vessels. It does not concern relationships within the bridge team.
  • Good communications need to be established, usually by VHF radio, but occasionally by other means. At all times it is important to take into consideration the requirements of other members of the port team.

Unit 6 - Transit the pilotage district

  • During the passage the pilot will need to monitor the vessel’s position constantly, taking into account course and speed, as well as other factors that may influence position, including weather, tide, currents and depth of water.
  • The execution of the agreed passage plan will be verified against estimates and amended as required, following consultation with the bridge team, to ensure safety margins are maintained.
  • It is generally accepted that navigating vessels in confined waters requires different skills to those in deeper waters.

Unit 7 - Manoeuvre vessels in harbours and their approaches

  • This unit covers all aspects of manoeuvring within the pilotage district, and includes position fixing, manoeuvring in shallow or restricted waters, using tugs and the skills involved in arriving at or departing from a berth or mooring.
  • Whilst a vessel is manoeuvring, external factors may move the vessel in a direction other than that which is intended. The early detection of this movement, and the actions required to compensate for it, are essential and fundamental. The ability to manoeuvre a vessel successfully depends largely on the pilot’s spatial awareness. This is improved over time through practical experience and repetition, but a natural ability must initially be apparent.
  • Unit 8 - React and respond to problems and emergency situations
  • A pilot must possess the ability to respond accurately and quickly to any problem, especially if it is a potential or actual emergency situation. This will require an ability to stay calm and make effective rapid decisions and convey them effectively to other members of the Bridge and Port teams.
  • This unit does not attempt to list the many different problems or emergencies that could arise; some indeed may be very minor. Instead it addresses the importance of safety – of life, vessel(s) and the environment. However, it should always be borne in mind that a minor malfunction has the potential of developing into a major one.

Unit 9 - Manage personal and professional conduct and development

  • Whilst previous units have concentrated on specific competences related directly to pilotage, this unit considers the importance of maintaining professionalism and of updating skills in order to continually improve performance.
  • A pilot should always be in a fit state to carry out their duties effectively.

Resource Information

Post date 08/05/2017
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