Pilotage is an essential link within Finland’s chain of logistics. Finnpilot’s pilotage services are used by approximately every third vessel visiting Finland’s ports. In accordance with the Pilotage Act (940/2003), the services are provided in public fairways within Finnish waters and the part of the Saimaa Canal leased by Finland that are designated as fairways requiring pilotage. The Finnish Transport and Communications Agency, Traficom, determines the fairways requiring pilotage and the pilot boarding positions.
Navigation is of great significance to Finland’s national economy; the majority of our import and export goods are transported on ships. Pilotage services facilitate the transport of these goods without any unnecessary and expensive delays. Additionally, pilotage prevents many serious accidents each year that could result in a loss of tens of millions of euro.
Navigational efficiency is the result of collaboration between multiple parties. Finnpilot works closely with different actors, such as ports, shipping companies, industry, charterers and icebreakers as well as with VTS Finland’s VTS (Vessel Traffic Service) Centres. VTS and Finnpilot play their own different part in the assurance of navigational efficiency and safety. VTS guides the traffic flows and vessel traffic within Finland’s waterways from on-land sites. Finnpilot pilots operate aboard ship bridges to guide them, to navigate challenging fairways and, by the request of the shipmaster, often also to ensure the safe manoeuvring of the ship into the port and at the quay.
Finnpilot operates and transports pilots using steel-framed pilot cutters for icy conditions, aluminium fast pilot boats, hydrocopters that travel over the ice, and cars.
The acquisition of new boats and overhaul of existing vessels is decided on each year on the basis of long-term plans. Equipment investments are made at a constant rate so that the aging of the vessels that are in heavy use will not result in a cumulative need for repairs and renewals.
The lifecycle of a cutter can be extended by overhauling the main engine, cabin and electrical system. Usually, the main engine of one cutter is overhauled each year, and this was the case in 2019 as well. Low sulphur fuel is used in our pilot cutters and other pilot vessels.
In 2019, the work of pilots and pilot boat operators received a great deal of positive attention when the television programme ‘Arman Pohjantähden alla – arjen sankarit’ (Arman Under the North Star – everyday heroes) visited the Kotka pilotage area. The programme was broadcast in October and provided an overall positive picture of the activities of Finnpilot and the professional competence of its personnel. Publications in social media that were linked to the programme gathered hundreds of likes and reached thousands of people.
Photo: Sami Tuunanen