OPERATIONAL ACTIVITIES

PILOTAGE PROMOTES SMOOTH AND SAFE NAVIGATION

Through its activities, Finnpilot serves the entire Finnish society

Finnpilot’s operational activities have been divided into six pilotage areas.

A District Chief Pilot or District Manager is assigned to each area to supervise the organisation of the activities on a practical level.

Finnpilot’s Pilot Order Centre receives orders 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

The area-specific key figures are shown on the map.

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INCREASED SAFETY THROUGH TRAINING AND DIGITALISATION

Googling ‘future ship’ provides images of possible future ships from the perspective of the maritime industry. The ships in the pictures are visionary, unmanned shuttles that run on renewable or emission-free energy sources. In addition to minimised emissions, the ships of the future will be designed to have a high level of automation that is expected to improve the safety of maritime traffic. The idea of unmanned vessels received a good deal of press some years ago, but nowadays, the automation of ships is proving to be a slower and more gradual process than earlier visions projected.

At the same time when the rate of changes is accelerating and the field of navigation is being stirred by actors utilising new operational models, the other extreme is represented by actors who continue to use inexpensive technologies that meet the minimum requirements. Within this operational environment, the work of pilots is also experiencing a period of evolution.

Pilotage in Finland serves a small portion of the world’s over 50,000 commercial ships, which are now sailing and may continue to sail for decades through Finland’s waterways. The aforementioned development will change the work of pilots in a way that differs from the picture painted by the media. The competence on board some of the piloted ships is weakening, and new technologies cannot resolve this problem.

The questionnaire conducted in 2019 as part of the research for a thesis on the safety of remote pilotage indicated that the majority of vessel shipmasters expect the pilot to carry out a significant portion of the fairway navigation, harbour manoeuvring and communications tasks.

Of the pilots that responded to the international survey, altogether 72% stated that the shipmasters of the piloted vessels expect the pilot to handle everything or nearly everything during fairway pilotage or harbour manoeuvring. A total of 97% of vessel shipmasters expect the pilot to handle all or nearly all of the radio communications throughout the pilotage assignment.

On some vessels, the weakening competence of the personnel has become a hazard to the safety of the pilots. The arrangements for the embarking or disembarking of pilots do not meet with minimum safety requirements and the situation has not improved. Disregard for safety measures is a clear sign of the weakening safety culture aboard vessels.

As a result of the development outlook within maritime traffic, one theme for 2019 was the assurance of the occupational safety of Finnpilot’s personnel, the development of training to better correspond to customers’ needs in a changing work environment, and the acquisition of new tools and knowledge to further develop pilotage activities. Finnpilot’s personnel received additional training, and new courses were added to the training programme.

Important collaboration, supported by the Ministry of Transport and Communications and led by Traficom, got underway during the year for the purpose of developing the national statutory pilotage training. A working group was appointed for this purpose that comprised representatives of Traficom, Finnpilot, Finnish Maritime Pilots’ Association and educational institutions. The working group met for the first time in December 2019.

Finnpilot’s aim is to establish its own training system for pilots, pilot coordinators and pilot boat operators. As part of this work, we initiated the planning of extended training for new pilot trainees in 2019. In addition to increasing the professional skills of pilotage trainees, it is vital that qualified pilots continue to develop their own competence, in a planned and systematic way, throughout their career. Although the primary aim of the training is to support the development of already qualified pilots so that their competence corresponds to the growing demands of a changing work environment, the development of the training also helps us to counter a possible future challenge in which competent maritime experts are not directly available as pilots.

Different levels of competence have been identified within the training programme and the training, as planned, to become a completely qualified pilot will take several years. For Finnpilot, the training represents an overall educational entity that includes different courses and simulator training as well as learning from more experienced pilots.

Sanna Sonninen, Pilotage Director