Port passage guidance is given legal force by the Harbour Authority's statutory powers under the pilotage directions. It is to be used in conjunction with master/pilot exchange forms, which ensure that both have the information needed for an agreed pilotage passage plan.
The object of port passage guidance is to ensure that:
• All parties know relevant details of any particular port passage in advance.
• There is a clear, shared understanding of potential hazards, margins of safety, and the ships characteristics.
• Intentions and required actions are agreed for the conduct of the port passage including the use of tugs and their availability and any significant deviation should it become necessary.
• The Pilot and Master of vessels or PEC holder entering harbour shall provide a written/schematic Port Passage Plan (PPP) containing all information relevant to the passage from pilot station to berth.
Vessel required to use a Port Passage Plan
• All vessels conducted by a Pilot.
• All vessels conducted by a certified Deck Officer who holds a current pilotage exemption certificate (PEC).
• Private / recreational vessels of less than 30 metres length overall are exempted from the formal requirement to use of a Port Passage Plan but are recommended to use one.
Port Passage Plans (PPP) are not immutable. It is the responsibility of a Pilot, on embarkation, to brief the Master on his proposals for the pilotage passage plan within the pilotage area. This plan should be agreed with the Master as soon as practicable. The plan will make allowance for any variations of tide and other local circumstances such as vessel movements, berth availability etc. It is important not to constrain the Pilot/PEC holder's need to react to unforeseen circumstances; but deviations from the agreed plan should be discussed with the Master and, when relevant, with port control, and recorded with reasons.
Passage Record Keeping
Access to proper records is required for the port to monitor the port's safety management system, and to investigate incidents. It is also in the interest of all concerned that, in the event of an incident, it is possible to demonstrate the Master was properly briefed by the Pilot (if one is used), and that there was an agreed pilotage passage plan. Plans adopted for particular passages shall be recorded. Recordings of VHF and CCTV may well also provide evidence.
Master / Pilot Exchange
The Master / Pilot exchange of information needs to be both detailed and structured if the respective roles of the Pilot and the Master are to be integrated to best effect. It should include as a minimum, the following:
• The provision by the Pilot of detailed local navigational information, including his recommended pilotage passage plan such details will assist the Master to update his own plan and charts.
• Details on how the bridge is managed, and who fulfils what functions will also assist the Pilot to integrate into the bridge team.
• Presentation by the Master to the Pilot of a completed standard Pilot Card. In addition, information should be provided on rate of turns at different speeds, turning circles, stopping distances and, if available, other appropriate data.
• General agreement on plans and procedures, including contingency plans, for the anticipated passage.
• Discussion of any special conditions such as weather, depth of water, tidal currents and marine traffic, which may be expected during the passage.
• Discussion of any unusual ship-handling characteristics, machinery difficulties, navigational equipment problems or crew limitations, which could affect the operation, handling or safe manoeuvring of the ship.
• Information on berthing arrangements; use, characteristics and number of tugs, mooring boats and other external facilities.
• Information on mooring arrangements.
• Confirmation of the language to be used on the bridge and with external parties.
This should ensure that the vessel has an agreed pilotage passage plan, and that the vessel's position can be monitored independently on the bridge whilst the Pilot has the conduct of the ship.
In order to help avoid misunderstandings, and to overcome any possible language problems, an oral exchange between Master and Pilot should be complemented by written details. Such details will also facilitate the provision of a record of the exchange, should it ever be necessary to establish who said what. The paper-based records should include the following:
Master to Pilot - The Pilot Card
This should provide, in clear, written / diagrammatic format all relevant information and details regarding the vessel and its equipment.
Pilot to Master - Pilotage Passage Plan
This should provide a written / chart / schematic containing all information relevant to the passage from pilot station to berth, including any tidal constraints and abort plans.
Pilot to CHA/MCA
Pilots have a statutory duty to report ship deficiencies that may affect adversely its safe navigation. These should be reported to the Harbour Authority, which should, in turn, inform the MCA. (If any such defects are of major concern, the Pilot should not commit the vessel to a passage in confined waters but instead abort the proposed movement to a place of safety).
Master to Pilot - HAZMAT checklist
The Master of any vessel carrying dangerous or polluting goods must supply to the Pilot an appropriate checklist. If the checklist is not satisfactorily completed, or it is not supplied, the Pilot must report this fact to the Harbour Authority immediately. The Harbour Authority in turn must pass this information to the MCA.