The master and pilot relationship

Master/Pilot relationship in focus at Nautical Institute seminar - SAFETY4SEA

the master and pilot relationship

No berthing guide would be complete without reference to the master/pilot relationship. With kind permission of the International Chamber of Shipping. MASTER / PILOT RELATIONSHIP. 2 of 15 with marine insurance (2). The actual causes of casualties and the physical losses of ships and cargoes, and damage. Master/Pilot Relationship - The Pilot's View Report No. In May , the Nautical Institute published a Nautical Briefing on Bridge Watchkeeping. Chapter .

This seminar will focus on the main issues from the Pilot and Master's points of view and then provide some answers. When our Branch Committee first met earlier this year to discuss the topic for a half-day seminar, we wanted to raise an important topic for our 20th year anniversary. Pilots are expected to take care of the interests of the local port, waterway and infrastructure as well as report on navigational deficiencies noted on board so the traditional role as 'advisor to the Master' is becoming increasingly unclear.

the master and pilot relationship

For example, a ship may manoeuvre into a new port every day but the tug masters may not speak English and traffic flow in the port is in the hands of the Vessel Traffic Service VTS - how much control on their port manoeuvres do the Bridge Team really have? The accidents during harbour manoeuvring may not necessarily be due to faults in the Master-Pilot relationship itself which is but one component of the Pilotage operation.

The topic has been the subject of several articles but has yet to be extensively debated in the Nautical Institute forums.

The Nautical Institute

Is radical reorganization of Master-Pilot responsibilities possible? We are sure they are as avidly read by pilots world-wide as they are by those engaged on somewhat longer voyages. There is however, the danger that those who provide such reports also take on the role of witness, reporter, judge and vested interest, all at the same time.

the master and pilot relationship

In a Marine Court these roles are judiciously separated and we can be grateful for that. We are confident that the readers are aware of this characteristic and interpret the reports with care. SEAWAYS itself goes to the extent of omitting the names of those involved, in the vast majority of cases, so that a MARS report does not become a battleground between the parties involved. In this instance, the peculiar circumstances of the case have resulted in a reversal of the traditional safeguards of identity.

the master and pilot relationship

For this reason, we wish to clarify the issues involved, not only for the sake of a fair presentation of the facts but also to uphold the reputation of the Hong Kong, China Pilots Association, which is the only body providing pilotage services in Hong Kong, China. MARS has impugned the integrity of the service we provide through stating the incident occurred in Hong Kong, China waters and involved a pilot in these waters.

The following paragraphs represent our analysis of that event and the results of our own investigation into the incident.

  • Pilot Liability

We feel this phrase is appropriate and regret that such careful terminology was not used in the remainder of the report.

There are some fundamental differences between the MARS report and the report of the pilot who we understand attended the vessel in question.

The Pilot's perception is that the Master reported that the anchor chain "felt tight", whereupon the Pilot turned to the Second Officer standing next to the telegraph and requested "Dead Slow Ahead" to give a kick ahead to take the stress off the chain.

the master and pilot relationship

This resulted in a sharp rebuke from the Master who insisted that all reports must be directed to the Master and not to any other officer. While the first part of the statement may be a matter of fact, the latter part is clearly conjecture. Shaking of the head has very many connotations especially in the context of different cultures and the Master's interpretation may well have been a result of his dissatisfaction with the Pilot's request for an engine order to the Second Officer.

The report implies a possible correlation between these two events. In point of fact, the Pilot's refusal to leave the bridge was occasioned by the need to monitor, amongst other things, such as radar, the VHF communications, particularly from small vessels, which are frequently delivered in Cantonese and often give prior warning of an intended manoeuvre.

Hong Kong, China waters have a high density of such craft.


In the Panama Canal the situation is also different; Pilots take navigational control of the vessel for the transit through the Canal. Where damage occurs, provided there is a formal investigation before the vessel leaves the canal system and within 24 hours of the casualty, recovery is possible from the Panama Canal Authority if the pilot's fault is established.

In contrast, the Suez Canal Rules of Navigation provide that pilots only give advice in manoeuvring the vessel. Responsibility for handling remains with the Master, who is solely responsible for all damages or accidents of whatever kind resulting from the navigation or handling of the ship.

Master/Pilot relationship in focus at Nautical Institute seminar

Elsewhere, the ship owner generally remains responsible for the negligent acts or omissions of a pilot, with little or no prospect of recovery. This resolution, inter alia, recommends: The establishment of competent pilotage authorities to implement the resolution. Pilotage authorities to establish, develop and maintain entry requirements and standards of training for pilots, and to arrange for the findings of investigations of incidents involving pilotage to be taken into account in pilot training programmes.

Every pilot to hold an appropriate certificate or licence issued by the competent pilotage authority stating any limitations that may apply such as maximum size, draught, or tonnage of ships the holder is qualified to pilot.

the master and pilot relationship

Every pilot to satisfy the competent authority about his medical fitness, particularly as regards eyesight and hearing which should meet STCW requirements or such other standard considered appropriate by the competent pilotage authority Training standards to be sufficient to enable the pilot to carry out his duties safely and efficiently, and training to include practical experience gained under the close supervision of experienced pilots.

This may be supplemented by simulation or classroom instruction.