It's Not Just Valet Parking

Topics: Navigation, Nautical terms, Pilotage Pages: 3 (1093 words) Published: December 10, 2012
As a child you would have heard tales about ships and seamen, pirates and shipwrecks. As you grew older you would have learned that ships are the lifeline of trade among countries. Everything from food to machinery comes by way of sea in huge ships piloted by sea captains. But what you may not know is that the captains are responsible for guiding the ship until they reach a port. Bringing the ship into the harbor and anchoring it is a task taken up by a different captain: one who belongs to a specific port and is familiar with the waters of its harbor. These captains are called marine pilots. Marine pilotage has a history as long as sea travels. The recorded history of marine pilotage dates back to about the 7th century BC. References to pilots assisting ships navigating close to the shore have been found even in the Holy Bible and in the writings of Homer and Virgil. Pilotage service is very often mistaken as valet services for ships. However, it is a job that requires a high degree of proficiency, quick and independent thinking, and knowledge about the port, its waters and local conditions. "It's also about risk management" says Jose Alappat, the Harbor Master of Cochin Port. A marine pilot is responsible for not only the safety of the ship and the passengers aboard, but also the marine environment and the port infrastructure. While inside the congested port waters, the pilots navigate the ship on behalf of the owner and master of the vessel. If an accident occurs inside the port waters, the insurance company will cover the vessel only if a licensed pilot was on board at the time of the incident. They also have a responsibility to the port for not damaging port infrastructure while navigating or bringing the vessel to the berths. If oil tankers are grounded or have collided, the oil leak caused can be disastrous for the environment and marine wildlife. In addition to the shallow flats, currents are another danger to deal with when bringing ships into port....
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