VTS - Pilot, Who's in Charge

Bill Davies
12th November 2007, 18:45
Following on from the obvious thread it would be interesting to hear from respective members their thoughts on this topic. I sensed some tension between the two on my visits to European ports in the final couple of years of my career.

Brgds

Bill Davies

John Cassels
12th November 2007, 19:15
Irrelevant I know , but one of the first jobs I applied for after being made
redundant was with the VTS service on the River Schelde ( Dutch Side).
Got knocked back as they said my radar experience was so much out of date
it would cost € 36,000 to retrain me.

The explanation that my radar experience was from the time that you learned
to interpretate what the CRT was telling you rather than having electronics
do it for you didn't seem make much impression .

Sorry Bill , not really relevant but perhaps shows how experience does not
seem to figure greatly in VTS schemes - over here anyway.

Steve Woodward
12th November 2007, 19:26
Its obvious who's in charge, the Master, taking the pilot's advice with the VTS monitoring and recording the whole show.

NZSCOTTY
12th November 2007, 20:27
You got it in one Steve! And the same answer for the "other" thread.

Bill Davies
12th November 2007, 21:08
John,

I don't think it is any different over here. I understand they run courses in Warsash and South Shields for VTS operatives and would be surprised if it cost a fraction of that figure. You have a real Masters(FG). No one can take that away.

Brgds

Bill

Bill Davies
13th November 2007, 08:08
The thread was initiated so sensible debate would follow. The Masters position is not up for discussion as that is very clear. Views on the VTS/Pilot interface would be appreciated.

NZSCOTTY
13th November 2007, 08:31
Hey Bill, I didn't realise you had full control of the thread. Sorry we mentioned the man where the buck (and the court)stops.

tacho
13th November 2007, 09:38
I guess the Pilot and the VTS person work for the same employer so if they can't get on together that's their problem. The job of the Master is to make sure it doesn't become his.

I looked at some web sites dealing with the collision in the Mersey between a vessel and the Incat and was surprised at the low quality of the radar pictures.

It appears to me (as a layman) that the Cat should have been told to stop or hold her position while the other ship sorted herself out. This incident doesn't reflect very well on anyone, Pilot, Master or VTS or Port Control (what is the set up in the Mersey?)

John Campbell
13th November 2007, 13:38
here is an article by Carl Nolte at cnolte@sfchronicle.com.

This article appeared on page A - 10 of the San Francisco Chronicle today

which hilights the Pilot,Master,VHS situation


Ship may have strayed from course before spill, records show
Carl Nolte, Chronicle Staff Writer

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

At 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Capt. John J. Cota, the bar pilot in charge of navigating the container ship Cosco Busan, radioed the Coast Guard vessel traffic service on Yerba Buena Island with an urgent message.

"I touched the delta tower," he told the traffic service, which monitors ship movements in and out of the bay. It may have been the understatement of the year.

Cota was reporting that the 902-foot-long container ship, displacing 65,131 tons, had run into the wooden fender surrounding one of the towers that hold up the Bay Bridge. The ship was traveling at about 11 knots, senior Coast Guard officials said.

The "touch" caused a tear in the side of the ship - a gash 160 feet long and 4 feet deep - rupturing the fuel tanks. Approximately 58,000 gallons of diesel fuel spilled into the bay - the biggest oil spill there in 20 years. It was a historic event, too - the first time a ship had ever hit the Bay Bridge since work began on the suspension towers almost 74 years ago.

"The cause of this accident," said Adm. Thad Allen, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, "was human error."

Allen was careful not to fix blame on any individual.

Cota's lawyer, John Meadows, told the Associated Press that his client thought the impact was minor. "He told me that you could hardly feel anything on the ship," the lawyer said.

This version of events, however, was disputed by Coast Guard officers. They said a man of Cota's experience should have known that a ship traveling at that speed would do a lot of damage.

Rear Adm. Craig Bone, the senior Coast Guard commander on San Francisco Bay, compared a moving ship to an elephant. "An elephant doesn't touch you," he said. "An elephant hits you."

Neither the Coast Guard nor the National Transportation Safety Board has released a transcript of the incident, but using information from ship pilots, captains, mariners who monitored the conversations between the ship and the Coast Guard vessel traffic service (VTS), and electronic tracks of the ship's course, it is possible to recreate the chain of events.

The Cosco Busan also was equipped with radar, a Global Positioning System, radios and an automatic identification system, a device that transmits the ship's position automatically every few seconds. The identification system made it possible to track and record the Cosco Busan's movements.

The track of the ship shows the Cosco Busan making a wide turn to the southwest, then swinging on a sharp right turn that took it into the bridge tower.

The track can be seen on www.boatingsf.com, a Web site for recreational boaters. BoatingSF picked up the identification system's transmissions on receivers in Berkeley and at the Corinthian Yacht Club in Tiburon.

A senior Coast Guard source said the Web site's information is "generally correct."

On Wednesday morning, the ship was docked at Berth 55 on the Oakland Estuary. It was chartered to Hanjin Shipping of Seoul. The vessel had just changed ownership, and the 21 officers and crew were making their first voyage with the ship.

The officers and crew were all Chinese. Though the navigating officers and the helmsmen were required to speak English, it is not clear how fluent they were.

Their fluency is an issue, because the accident's cause may include what mariners call "bridge resource management," or how the pilots and crew interact.

Cota, the bar pilot, came aboard about an hour before sailing. He met the captain of the ship and the officer of the watch. He probably was introduced to the helmsman, who would actually steer the ship under his orders.

The four men on the bridge were the key characters in what was to follow.

Cota, 59, is a graduate of the California Maritime Academy in Vallejo and holds a license to command any ship in any waters. Additionally, he holds an endorsement on his license as a pilot on San Francisco Bay and its approaches. But the ultimate responsibility of the ship is borne by the master, or captain, whose name has not been released. The pilot gives advice to the captain on navigating the ship. It is rare to disregard this advice, and captains seldom do.

When the ship departed, the weather was foggy, visibility less than a mile. Cota checked with the vessel traffic service, using VHF radio channel 14. All commercial vessels monitor this channel, and all are required to check in with the vessel traffic service.

According to those familiar with the transmissions, Cota told the Coast Guard traffic service that the fog had lifted a bit, and he was prepared to get under way for sea. His intention, he said, was to go through the Delta-Echo span on the San Francisco side of the Bay Bridge. That passage is between the two towers closest to Yerba Buena Island.

The Cosco Busan was accompanied by a 78-foot tug named Revolution. The tug did not appear to have played any role in what followed.

First, Cota had to get his ship around the dredge Njord, which was anchored in the estuary.

Once in the bay, the approach to the Delta-Echo span is fairly straightforward in clear weather, according to several pilots.

But Cota was in dense fog. He had to rely on his electronic devices and the bridge team.

At some point, according to the automatic identification system, the ship steered left, away from the course that would take it to the channel between the two bridge towers.

It is not clear why this happened. Sometimes, the seaman at the helm will misunderstand the bar pilot's orders, said Capt. John Konrad, a master mariner who runs a maritime Web site called gCaptain.com.

But, he said, "the pilot is supposed to be checking the helmsman, the mate is supposed to be checking as well, and the master is there observing it all."

Capt. John Keever, commanding officer of the California Maritime Academy's training ship Golden Bear, said the bar pilot "is supposed to make sure they understand what he wants them to do. A lot of times they (the man at the helm or officers) don't do what they are told."

Coming out of the estuary, Keever said, "it is critical that (the ship) makes that right turn." Instead, the ship went left. "It had to be a mistake that they went left," he said.

Not long afterward, the vessel traffic service called the Cosco Busan to tell Cota that he was on the wrong course. The ship was heading parallel to the Bay Bridge, instead of on a course that would take it under the bridge.

Cota at first disputed the vessel traffic service message, saying, "That's not what I see here." After hitting the bridge, Cota proceeded to an anchorage off Treasure Island and stopped. He then reported the accident in more detail and said the ship was leaking oil.
JC

Keith Adams
13th November 2007, 17:38
I have posted this note on the other thread regarding this same subject ... we have an interesting incident here in the San Francisco Bay which occurred last Wednesday 7 November at about 0830 hrs when the container vessel "Cosco Busan", outbound from Oakland, California, struck the concrete base platform for the "Delta Tower of the Bay Bridge (Oakland/San Francisco) at her starboard side, tearing an approximate 80 ft long by 10 ft high gash in her hull about 10 feet below the white painted sign HANJIN, releasing an estimated 58,000 gals of fuel oil ... ship otherwise okay. Had a pilot plus escort tug in variable heavy to dense fog conditions. See web site www.boatingsf.com for a video on the matter. Cheers, Snowy

Bill Davies
13th November 2007, 17:47
I guess the Pilot and the VTS person work for the same employer so if they can't get on together that's their problem. The job of the Master is to make sure it doesn't become his.





Tacho,
That is my concern.
Detected an atmosphere from Pilots in several European ports in particular one UK Oil port where the VTS intervention was not welcome.
Much talk about the V103 qualifications of the VTS operatives and their lack of practical experience. Conveniently ignoreing the recent STCW qualifications of the trainee Pilot.

Understand the consecutive Dublin Bay grounding in 2005 were VTS/Pilot related due in the main to the Pilots poor relationship with the VTS (they are ex ratings with V103 ' a Pilots comment').These men, the Pilots, have Mate (HT) and a few with Class 1 Deck.

If we did the job we are paid for rather than massage 'egos' we would doing ok.

LEEJ
13th November 2007, 18:02
I think there is a common mistake amongst individuals to interpret class room qualifications with lack of, or quality of ship handling skills. Ship handling surely can only be learnt hands on at the end of the day.

tacho
13th November 2007, 18:23
Barely heard of VTS and never V106 but had a little trawl round the internet.

It appears that training to be a VTS operative is wonderfully bureaucratic the educational establishments (Warsash etc ) will love that.

Bill Davies
14th November 2007, 07:56
Tacho,
The fast ferry business on the Mersey i.e is another story and defies belief.

Orbitaman
14th November 2007, 08:10
The rationale behind VTS is to assist vessels to navigate safely within a port or port area. The VTS operator is able to give advice to vessels, either to assist manoeuvering (as in the case of Southampton VTS where the VTS give advice to large container vessels making the turn off calshot spit into Southampton water, where the largest vessels have an underkeel clearance of 0.6 metres), or to give navigational information (buoys out of position, tidal rates and directions or other vessel movements), or in extreme cases to avoid close quarters situations or collisions. However, in all cases, the VTS operator can give advice only and has no power to order the Master or Pilot of a vessel to take specific action.

In the UK, the majority of VTS operators are currently ex MN Officers or ex RN personnel, who one would hope, have at least some experience of ship handling. However, this does not mean that this situation will change in the future. some ports are already looking to recruit VTS operators directly from school!

johnalderman
14th November 2007, 11:45
I think the way to go is to train Pilots straight from school, a masters ticket and experience deep sea has very little relevance to pilotage in my opinion. Why does a pilot need to have spent years in the middle of the ocean miles from land? Give me a lad with three good "A" levels or a degree and I could train him to be a first class pilot in 5 years.

johnalderman
14th November 2007, 12:02
Also I remember an incident many years ago reported in our local paper when a master of a Norwegian ferry against, pilots and VTS advice insisted on picking his pilot up inside the Tyne piers in dense fog!!!!!after a VHF argument the pilot lay just inside the piers and waited and waited till the master screamed "Where is my pilot" unfortunately he had entered Sunderland by mistake, his ship handling skills prevented a disaster but his navigation skills were found wanting.

Bill Davies
14th November 2007, 18:54
I think the way to go is to train Pilots straight from school, a masters ticket and experience deep sea has very little relevance to pilotage in my opinion. Why does a pilot need to have spent years in the middle of the ocean miles from land? Give me a lad with three good "A" levels or a degree and I could train him to be a first class pilot in 5 years.

I would not disagree with you John and the USA Pilots are testimony to your thinking however, I am trying to address the Pilot/VTS interface. I have given a few examples I have witnessed where there is clear hipocracy. And, being well aware of the principle behind VTS (Control of Space etc, etc) should this not be considered a boon to Pilots. I would welcome such assistance. Unfortunately my experience has shown this potential assistance is reluctantly accepted and is akin to 'big brother'.

tacho
14th November 2007, 22:09
I think the way to go is to train Pilots straight from school

That's a bit unfair on people who have spent some time at sea, are well qualified and would like a job where they see their families occasionally. I guess you would fit into that category John?

Keith Adams
15th November 2007, 03:23
Sorry Guys I made a Boo Boo ... "Cosco Busan" extensive hull damage is to her port side and NOT starboard. Snowy

johnalderman
15th November 2007, 10:55
tacho, you are right, but the point i was trying to make is that a deep sea ticket may not be the best qualification for a pilot. I see the day when a pilot will be trained ashore in all aspects of his port, shadowing ships agents, tug masters, line handlers, port ops, the harbour master and most important of all other pilots and maybe a short coastal trip or two. This training along with college and simulator could I think produce a first class pilot without the necessity of years at sea. i do think the present system turns out excellent pilots but I do think a new way would produce pilots of at least as good quality and at an earlier age, extending thier pilotage career possible by another ten years.

Pilot mac
15th November 2007, 11:56
There is no straightforward formula for the recruitment of pilots. Whether the applicant has a Master FG or 3 'A' Levels or whatever other qualifications. It is a fact that some of the above will never be suitable candidates. Years at sea as Master does not mean you are a good ship handler or ever will be. In my opinion the best candidates come partially trained, ie they have a proven experience of ship handling. The best training (again in my opinion) is the old fashioned 'tripping' where the new pilot can learn and be assessed by other pilots before being authorised.

As far as the Pilot /VTS interface is concerned, a lot of UK ports have a rostered pilot on duty in VTS and I have never experienced a problem. In fact it would be dificult to operate efficiently without VTS.

regards
Dave

Chouan
15th November 2007, 12:38
Don't Mississippi Pilots qualify like that? By shadowing qualified Pilots until they are able to do the job, without ever needing to go to sea?

James_C
15th November 2007, 12:49
I think a lot of the American Pilots are like that.
In a similar vein, I remember being aboard a ship heading into Brisbane a few years back and the Pilot we had aboard was on about shortage of personnel etc (primarily down to Aussie having a next to non existent fleet) available.
As I recall, he said one of the solutions they were looking at was taking men 'off the street' and putting them through some form of Portfolio based training, similar to the NVQ system we have in the UK. Whether this was ever implemented I do not know as I haven't been back there for about 5 years.
Both the Brizzy Pilots and the Torres Strait mob had those laptops connected to a GPS receiver mounted on the bridge wing - first time I'd seen an Electronic chart!
I'd have thought some of the more sensible systems were those found in the likes of Liverpool and on the Tyne, where young lads were apprenticed at 16 on the Pilot cutters, were then sent deep sea to get enough time for their tickets and then returned as Pilots (after a period of training). That way the had the best of both worlds in that whilst maintaining a working knowledge of the locality they were able to experience different ship types, ports etc.
Perhaps that could be an answer to the perennially personnel strapped shipping companies and Pilotage authorities?

Bill Davies
15th November 2007, 17:57
There is no straightforward formula for the recruitment of pilots. Whether the applicant has a Master FG or 3 'A' Levels or whatever other qualifications. It is a fact that some of the above will never be suitable candidates. Years at sea as Master does not mean you are a good ship handler or ever will be. In my opinion the best candidates come partially trained, ie they have a proven experience of ship handling. The best training (again in my opinion) is the old fashioned 'tripping' where the new pilot can learn and be assessed by other pilots before being authorised.

As far as the Pilot /VTS interface is concerned, a lot of UK ports have a rostered pilot on duty in VTS and I have never experienced a problem. In fact it would be dificult to operate efficiently without VTS.

regards
Dave


Thanks for that Dave. I would agree and we get back to perception again.
If Pilots, whether with Masters (FG) or not have one of their own in the VTS are they not more liable to listen to on of there 'cloth' so to speak

Hugh Ferguson
15th November 2007, 18:48
That is a very important point , Bill, (post number 25). Whether it is one of your own on VTS, or afloat, you immediately know that he knows exactly what you are having to contend with. On one occasion I can recall, that rather than find myself in close quarters with an outward bound R.N. ship doing his own pilotage, I took a round turn out of the large spirit tanker I was piloting before entering the North Edinburgh channel. Anyone with memories of the TRUCULENT disaster would do likewise.
It is so very important to know what the out-bound ship is having to deal with, and you, in the inbound ship, feel assured that he knows what you are having to contend with. This awareness is denied to ship handlers who only occasionally pilot their ships in a district that is not too familiar to them.

Tom S
16th November 2007, 11:10
Thankyou Pilot Mac
As many of you know the last thread on this subject produced a very heated discussion.
In the Uk VTS has become a very important tool in the operation of our Ports and Rivers It is not there to take away the lawful right of a Shipsmaster to Navigate his own vessel nor interfere with the Pilotage operation. It is there to advise and to control shipping in its designated area in order that it can help to avoid a major shipping incident.
VTS is an important function of Port Management as it monitors a vessel fom its arrival within the Port Limits until its Departure
It carries out Safety and Equipment Checks on Vessels
Gathers important information on Ships Carges and controls the passage and information of Dangerous Goods
Directs vessels to safe Anchorages
Directs vessels to Pilot Boarding Areas
Has an overview of the entire area it operates in and passes on navigational information to vessels as required
Has a series of reporting points to ensure other port users are aware of vessels on the move
Has a responsibility for the Navigational Aids within the area
Arranges Towage
Arranges Berthing with the Ports
Controls all marine emergencies within its area and has constant contact with the emergency services
These are only some of the duties carried out on a daily basis by the VTS people. They do a good job they are mainly Professional Mariners like yourselves Not Policemen. They are there to assist the Shipmaster and keep our Ports and Harbours safe,
TomS

Outlawtorn70
17th November 2007, 21:22
Complementarity of the two would be obvious for everyone around here.
Pilot represent the on-site eyes of the vts operator who has an overview of the vicinity. I think that one is in need of the other and vice-versa. Tensions should be underconsidered as far as they are specific to every human being, not to services or entities. Suppose that there were no pilots and no Vts in the river Thames, who is the LNG Master who will dare to enter and reach Isle of Grain??

Bill Davies
18th November 2007, 06:58
Hmmmm!

tacho
18th November 2007, 10:31
Suppose that there were no pilots and no Vts in the river Thames, who is the LNG Master who will dare to enter and reach Isle of Grain??
Reply With Quote

Well it would sort out the men from the boys. Might be an expensive excercise though.

BTW when was VTS or it's predecessor introduced on the Thames (and approaches).

John Gurton
18th November 2007, 13:19
From Safety at Sea website......
USCG failed to warn Cosco Busan
SAN FRANCISCO 16 November – The Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) knew the Cosco Busan was close to hitting the Oakland Bay Bridge, but did not warn the ship, the National Transport Safety Board said yesterday. Board spokesman Peter Knudson said the VTS told investigators that it was decided to give pilot John Cota two minutes radio silence to allow him to navigate under the bridge. Knudson said the reasons for not warning the ship “certainly will be part of our investigation”. Meanwhile, Cota’s attorney said that the pilot maintains that the radar was faulty just before the accident. “The closer we came to the bridge, the more the picture on both radars deteriorated,” Cota said in a statement released by lawyer John Meadows. “The radar presentation, in fact, deteriorated to such an extent that the raycon at the centre of the bridge was not showing on all of the radars, nor were the towers, the bridge piers and the buoys which indicated the towers. All I could get was a distortion of the bridge – a thick black ribbon without any details.” Commercial fishermen in the bay area have filed a $100M class action suit against Regal Stone, Hanjin Shipping and Cosco. The action is being handled by William Audet, who also filed suits after the Exxon Valdez spill.

Lots of issues will be forthcoming from this little bump !

There are still elements in VTS higher UK management advocating more use of VTS called VTMS in place of pilotage. They are still looking at closing down outer pilot boarding grounds and shifting them inside the district whilst "managing" the ships passage. All reliant on good VHF communication and AIS of course !

Hugh Ferguson
18th November 2007, 13:23
Well it would sort out the men from the boys. Might be an expensive excercise though.

BTW when was VTS or it's predecessor introduced on the Thames (and approaches).

The very first assistance in this form began, if I'm not mistaken, sometime in the 1960's (I'll need to conduct a research of my diaries for this) when a
launch from the Medway was adapted to give radioed assistance to ships arriving and departing the Medway. I cannot at the moment recall the call sign but contact was made by R.T. on 2182, shift to a working channel, and ask the launch if somebody would kindly take a peek at the tidegage on the wall against which they were moored.
This laborious business sometimed required that the pilot take himself into the radio room if he wanted to be sure of the information being received!
Owing to the comparative shallowness of the Medway Channel, and the deep-drafted tankers arriving for I.O.Grain, this information was extremely useful and was, no doubt, the very first step into the complex system in present day operation, of which I am totally ignorant.

tacho
18th November 2007, 14:02
” Commercial fishermen in the bay area have filed a $100M class action suit against Regal Stone, Hanjin Shipping and Cosco. The action is being handled by William Audet, who also filed suits after the Exxon Valdez spill.

More like John Grisham by the minute.

Bill Davies
18th November 2007, 14:14
Hugh/Tacho,
Thought I would 'cut and paste' the following from a port handbook. As it gives some means of focus.

By definition (1) a Vessel Traffic Service is a service implemented by a competent authority, designed to improve the safety and efficiency of vessel traffic and protect the environment. The service should have the capability to interact with the traffic and respond to traffic situations developing in the VTS area.
The VTS can rightly be described, depending on local regulations, as ‘ control of space’ of the area in which it exercises authority. Recognising at all times that Masters control and navigate their ships within that space.
In this respect the services rendered by the VTS is best described as that of a Harbour/ Port rendering a level of service offering:

§ A Traffic Organisation Service which prevents the development of dangerous maritime traffic situations and therefore provide for safe and efficient movement of traffic within the VTS area.
§ An Information Service to ensure that essential information is available to those requiring it.
§ A Navigational Assistance Service (2) to assist onboard decision making insofar as assistance is by information only and in keeping with the principle that instructions/ advice issued are ‘result orientated’.

1. To require compliance with National and International Law and Conventions and with the provisions of the Harbours Act 1996/2000 and subordinate legislation.
2. Maintain a traffic organisation service to prevent dangerous maritime traffic situations (3) .and to promote and provide for safe and efficient movement of vessels within the VTS area.
3. Maintain an information service that ensures essential information is readily available for onboard navigational decision-making.
4. A service to assist with the onboard navigational decision making process.
5. A service which assists in the co-ordination of the supply of pilots together with the necessary information to assist in the formulation of a passage plan for their intended task.
6. Provide information relating to Dublin Port and its approaches to ships outside the Authorities area as and when requested.
7. To keep an accurate, comprehensive and auditable record of all: -
§ All commercial vessel movements.
§ Pilotage acts.
§ Ship/ Shore and Ship/ Ship communications for a limited period.
§ Incident Reports

Such detail will also assist with the investigation into incidents, which from time to time occur.

8. Monitor shipping movements, including vessel routeing & speed, together with tidal and shipping movements within the ports area of authority and to provide timely information concerning hazardous situations.
9. To act as coordinating authority in the event of an incident within the ports jurisdiction and area of authority which involves other organisations, services or authorities.
10. To alert the Harbour Master or Assistant Harbour Master to any incident which may require the implementation of the Port Emergency Plan, carry out initial alerting and staff call out role.
11. To act as the ports central point of contact outside normal office hours for all incoming inquiries or information.

(1) IMO Resolution A857(20) - Adopted 27.11.97
(2) & (3) 'Result orientated'

The footnotes ' result orientated ' are important as VTS operators are not allowed in directed HOW you achieve a manouvre but requesting the outcome.

Ron Stringer
18th November 2007, 17:42
During the 1980s and '90s I was involved at IMO with setting up standards for the design and implementation of communication services for use in VTMS systems. One thing that I never understood was the absolute rejection by ship owners/operators and seafarers' organisations of any suggestion that a maritime equivalent of 'Air Traffic Control' could be considered for use by ports, harbours and constrained passages (such as the Dover Straits).

Having an in-born resistance to reinventing the wheel, I always looked to see if someone had already found an acceptable solution to a problem before spending time trying to design my own answers. When it came to controlling marine traffic (operating in only 2 dimensions) I naively thought that the long experience of ATC (operating in 3 dimensions) might be a suitable source of advice. Horror from all parties! Hang the infidel! Don't you know that the Master is in control of his vessel and nobody has equivalent knowledge of what should be done in every circumstance and traffic situation? Silly Sparks, why don't you stick to dreaming up unecessary satcoms or AIS systems that aren't needed, just wished on Master Mariners by 'the office' or those damned regulatory bodies?

I occasionally wondered how happy the population of London (or neighbours of any other busy airport) would be if 737s, 747s and Airbuses were allowed the same level of 'freedom' as shipping in the English Channel. Any views?

Hugh Ferguson
18th November 2007, 18:04
Quote:- Post No.34. (4) A service to assist with the onboard navigational decision making process.

What a pretentious way to put it! I suppose somebody got paid to put all those words together. Beyond my understanding. The world I operated in was essentially practical. Somebody will probably devise a degree course soon-like Peace Studies-and then we will all be able to become qualified without getting out of an armchair. The Chinese can manufacture everything and build the ships to transport it while we do the words. I hope to go on living in this world for a few more years but thank god I don't have to work in it.

tacho
18th November 2007, 18:23
One thing that I never understood was the absolute rejection by ship owners/operators and seafarers' organisations of any suggestion that a maritime equivalent of 'Air Traffic Control' could be considered for use by ports, harbours and constrained passages (such as the Dover Straits).

This one is a can worms. ATC is essential to air transport. Aircraft whizz about at great speed in zero viz many of them headed for the same piece of tarmac, they can't stop or anchor and there is no such thing as a minor collision in the air. The air traffic system is amazingly complex and expensive and you wouldn't have one unless it was absolutely necessary - which it is.

Generally seamen do a good job of navigating mostly without hitting each other or the geography. They could always use more help of course but handing over the con to someone ashore is just asking for trouble.

The only exception to this will be when and if we get unmanned ships, but I don't think we need worry about that just yet.

John Campbell
18th November 2007, 18:45
Quote:- Post No.34. (4) A service to assist with the onboard navigational decision making process.

What a pretentious way to put it! I suppose somebody got paid to put all those words together. Beyond my understanding. The world I operated in was essentially practical. Somebody will probably devise a degree course soon-like Peace Studies-and then we will all be able to become qualified without getting out of an armchair. The Chinese can manufacture everything and build the ships to transport it while we do the words. I hope to go on living in this world for a few more years but thank god I don't have to work in it.
I echo your sentiments Hugh - well said.
JC

Cap'n Pete
18th November 2007, 20:22
There is, and always will be, a major difference between air trafffic control and marine VTS and I'm not talking about the way it operates. If an airliner landing at London Heathrow tonight crashes into another aircraft which has just landed, there would be no suggestion by the media or anybody else that the fault was the pilots. The spotlight would immediately fall on ATC. If a container ship entering the Solent tonight crashed into a moored tanker, the ship's captain would immediately be blamed and no amount of evidence to the contary will ever change that.

Maritime VTS, like pilots, will always be just another advisor to the ships master. Nothing more, nothing less. In cases of gross negligence, individual operators may face disciplinary action, but I cannot foresee the day when VTS operators will pay out millions of dollars in fines and pollution charges or their management go to prison for failing to prevent a maritime incident.

I think the recent accident in San Francisco Bay is going to revolutionise the way VTS operates around the world, because they clearly saw an accident about to happen but were unable to prevent it. The Bay Traffic VTS operated by the USCG is, in my experience, one of the best in the world; you cannot blow your nose in the Bay area without first getting their permission, yet an avoidable accident still occurred. Why did the pilot and the ship's captain choose to ignore their advice that they were off station?

The investigation into this accident is going to prove very interesting indeed.

Bill Davies
18th November 2007, 20:49
I would concurr your thoughts on Bay Area VTS.

tacho
18th November 2007, 22:07
If an airliner landing at London Heathrow tonight crashes into another aircraft which has just landed, there would be no suggestion by the media or anybody else that the fault was the pilots.

I wouldn't bet on it.

And

because they clearly saw an accident about to happen but were unable to prevent it.

Couldn't they advise the pilot that they saw a problem? Surely there is no legislation to prevent that.

Steve Woodward
19th November 2007, 00:03
VTS can and will advise a ship if they see a problem occurring

tacho
19th November 2007, 08:53
From Safety at Sea website......
USCG failed to warn Cosco Busan
SAN FRANCISCO 16 November – The Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) knew the Cosco Busan was close to hitting the Oakland Bay Bridge, but did not warn the ship, the National Transport Safety Board said yesterday.


VTS can and will advise a ship if they see a problem occurring

Apparently not in this case.

Steve Woodward
19th November 2007, 18:54
We are going to have to wait for the enquiry before we start hanging folk, reading the news does not give an accurate insite into what happened.

tacho
19th November 2007, 20:44
Well here's a post with a quote from the USCG.

KNTV-TV
updated 8:32 p.m. ET Nov. 16, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - Investigators said Thursday the Coast Guard warned the pilot of the Cosco Busan he was on course to hit the Bay Bridge but they kept quiet when the pilot told them he knew where he was going, NBC11's Bob Redell reported.

The Coast Guard said Friday that it wasn't its role to put the cargo ship Cosco Busan on a different course before it sideswiped the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge last week.

Spokesman Captain Jim McPherson emphasized that -- unlike Air Traffic Control -- the role of the Coast Guard's Vessel Traffic Service in directing ships is purely advisory.

McPherson was reacting to reports that the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the accident, plans to look into whether the VTS had the obligation to do more than it did to prevent the crash and spill.

John Campbell
20th November 2007, 14:07
We should have the report in 90 days

USCG blames master, pilot for spill
SAN FRANCISCO 20 November – A senior coast guard officer has laid the blame for the Cosco Busan oil spill on the master and pilot of the ship. “Something tragic must have taken place on board the ship,” Coast Guard Rear Adm Craig Bone told a hastily organised congressional hearing yesterday on the incident. He said that “if [the pilot and master] had carried out their responsibilities, we wouldn’t be sitting here today.” According to news reports, Bone has also questioned an assertion by the pilot that there were problems with the radar before the ship left Oakland. According to the reports, Bone said the pilot had not reported problems to the Vessel Traffic Service. But the congressional committee lambasted the Coast Guard for not being quicker to respond to the accident. Committee chairman Elijah Cummings said: “Something is missing. We’ve got to find out what it is that is missing. It’s not just about San Francisco. This is about our country, and this is about making sure this type of thing doesn’t happen again.” Committee member Nancy Pelosi, who is speaker of the House of Representatives, said she will ask the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, Richard Skinner, to conduct an investigation. Bone said the clean up of the spill was one of the most successful he had seen, with 27% of the oil removed. “As oil spills go, five to 20% is what you see,” he said. Coast Guard head Admiral Thad Allen has ordered an inquiry into the service’s nationwide efficiency and ability to respond to natural disasters. A report is due in 90 days.
10:15 20 Nov
JC

John Campbell
28th November 2007, 21:01
An interesting article in Safety at Sea today will show you perhaps where VTS is going .

TOP SAFETY STORY
US may look for compulsory VTS
WASHINGTON, DC 28 November – Vessels transiting US harbours could come under tight navigational controls in the wake of the Cosco Busan bridge strike and resulting spill in San Francisco Bay. Sources close to the investigation tell Fairplay that federal officials may suggest that vessels transiting US channels may be compelled to follow navigational instructions issued by the US Coast Guard’s Vessel Traffic Service.
In the case of the Cosco Busan accident, it has been alleged that VTS duty officers tried to warn the vessel off its impact course with the Bay Bridge, but their advice is just that and not mandatory for vessel operators. Fairplay asked USCG Commandant Thad Allen about the suggestion and he said that, if required to, the Coast Guard is up to the challenge of positively controlling commercial vessel traffic. But he noted that most major US harbours presently don’t have VTS systems and that such a change would require a major financial commitment “and a departure from the current culture regarding vessel navigation responsibility”. The suggested system would be along the lines of air traffic control procedures which Allen says were developed centuries after the traditional rules for vessel captains and pilots.
JC

Ron Stringer
28th November 2007, 23:49
Maritime VTS, like pilots, will always be just another advisor to the ships master. Nothing more, nothing less.

An interesting article in Safety at Sea today will show you perhaps where VTS is going.

TOP SAFETY STORY US may look for compulsory VTS
WASHINGTON, DC 28 November – Vessels transiting US harbours could come under tight navigational controls in the wake of the Cosco Busan bridge strike and resulting spill in San Francisco Bay. Sources close to the investigation tell Fairplay that federal officials may suggest that vessels transiting US channels may be compelled to follow navigational instructions issued by the US Coast Guard’s Vessel Traffic Service. ....

The suggested system would be along the lines of air traffic control procedures which Allen says were developed centuries after the traditional rules for vessel captains and pilots.
JC

Can anyone detect a threat to the dinosaurs?

James_C
29th November 2007, 00:05
I fancy our American cousins may just rethink the concept of an ATC type system once the insurance obligations become apparent!

tacho
29th November 2007, 13:46
One thing that has not been mentioned in the (inevitable..?) comparison with ATC, is that aircraft are totally (well 99.9%)dependent on ATC for collision avoidance and in addition ( or consequently) ATC enables far higher traffic densities than would be possible with just procedural separation....(something else you don't have at sea).

A direct comparison with ATC isn't always helpful and I don't think that an ATC type system is necessary or desirable at sea - although the bureaucratic empire builders will be ever hopeful.

Landlubber
29th November 2007, 14:02
Aircraft are not always dependent on ATC for collision avoidance. In fact for most General Aviation flights this is rarely the case. The pilot may be receiving a flight information service or a radar information service and would be responsible for his own collision avoidance. He would still be responsible even when receiving a radar advisory service. In the latter case he would be given advice on action to take to avoid a conflict but is not compelled to take that action. He must, however, inform the controller if he does not take the suggested action. When receiving a control service the pilot must obey the ATC instructions but is still, in most cases, responsible for maintaining his own terrain clearance.

tacho
29th November 2007, 14:23
Aircraft are not always dependent on ATC for collision avoidance. In fact for most General Aviation flights this is rarely the case. The pilot may be receiving a flight information service or a radar information service and would be responsible for his own collision avoidance. He would still be responsible even when receiving a radar advisory service. In the latter case he would be given advice on action to take to avoid a conflict but is not compelled to take that action. He must, however, inform the controller if he does not take the suggested action. When receiving a control service the pilot must obey the ATC instructions but is still, in most cases, responsible for maintaining his own terrain clearance.
Reply With Quote

Not true I'm afraid; in fact much of the airspace in Europe is permanently under positive ATC control.
There is simply no way that the vast majority of airline operations could continue without positive ATC control. Certainly the aircraft commander is ultimately responsible but he still has to fly as he (or she) is instructed by ATC - see what happens to you if you don't. The exception is TCAS (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traffic_Collision_Avoidance_System) which is an on board collision avoidance system which has to be obeyed.

Hugh Ferguson
30th November 2007, 12:50
There would be a many issues to take into consideration were a system similar to ATC be contemplated for ships.
I can bring to mind many an instance when such a measure of control would not have been to the shipowner's liking one little bit, and one of those is the getting of a ship to her berth when pushing your luck has been the order of the day. In other words making the tide. I wouldn't go so far as to say that a pilot had been "leaned on", but it was made clear that it would be very desireable not to miss the tide.
In my own experience I have seen a tanker going flat out all the way (16 knots up Sea Reach and drawing 40 feet) to make the high water on account of the refinery getting low on crude and wishing to avoid a shut down of the refining process. That would certainly not be allowed with ATC, or for that matter, any kind of external control.
Another tanker, I recall, had a cylinder on its diesel engine out of service, so that if the engine was stopped, the turning gear needed to be engaged before it could be restarted. We had fog on that occasion too, but managed to make the tide without breaking more than a handful of regulations!
Another instance of how important it is regarded by shipowners to get the pilot aboard, was the case of a rush job to get a pilot to Rotterdam for a Johnson Swede, bound Tilbury. The pilot (not me) just missed the ferry to Ostend and had to 'phone the agents to know what next. He was told to go to Manston where a privately chartered Cessna would fly him there. The agents told him that the cost was regarded as peanuts compared to the loss if the ship had not made that tide. I could follow this theme ad infinitum, but I'll desist before some peoples' blood pressure rises to dangerous levels.
Pilots becoming dinosaurs-that'll be the day!

John Campbell
12th June 2008, 17:42
Here is the latest gen on the Cosco Busan saga from Safety at Sea International ;-
Safety at Sea email newsletter

Cosco Busan blames US government
09 Jun 2008

IN what would be a precedent-setting case, lawyers for owners of the box ship Cosco Busan are attempting to blame the US government for the bunker spill – alleging they licensed an unfit pilot. The lawyers for Regal Stone are also filing counter and cross claims for the more than $60M spent to clean up the 177-tonne bunker spill. The claim asserts that the accident never would have occurred had the pilot, John J Cota, been medically fit. “The United States was negligent in licensing Pilot Cota, insofar as it failed to determine that Pilot Cota was not medically fit for duty pursuant to the applicable regulations,” the filing states. “In essence, the United States Coast Guard failed to ‘guard the coast’ by failing to disqualify Pilot Cota and instead renewing his license.” The responses to the federal charges draw on public disclosures that Cota was once cited for drunk driving and his medical history, which included taking prescription drugs including Valium. The federal government has until August to respond to these assertions.

jc

mark c
12th June 2008, 20:02
As a Pilot and VTS Supervisor, I think that the answer is 'its a team effort'. The Master, Pilot and VTS operators all have their roles to play and must respect each others situation. Between them they must have a clear understanding of each others skills and limitations.
VTS training has undergone some radical changes in the last 10 years, with the introduction of the IALA v.103 standard. Mariners need to update themselves with how Port operations in this area have changed and be aware of the different levels of service given. Basically a Port can provide either a information service or traffic organisation service (with navigational assistance if required).
VTS stations have the overall situation at hand when passing important information / instructions, but must be fully aware of the problems and difficulties faced by the Master and Pilot.
Many Ports combine the VTS Supervisor and Pilot role. This can work quite well, good for some authorities but not all.

Dave Wilson
12th June 2008, 20:05
This can work quite well, good for some authorities but not all.

Mark,
How very true.
Dave

Hugh Ferguson
12th June 2008, 21:39
Just for the record, my training as a South Channel Inwards, Trinity House pilot, for the Port of London, involved 5 months in 80 ships, accompanying Outward and Inward pilots between Dungeness, Gravesend and Sheerness, vice versa. Having previously been an Aden pilot for 2 years I was given remission of one month-most others had to do the full six months of what was always referred to as, "Tripping", and there was no pay: I, fortunately, had six months of paid leave from my Aden service, but for some, married with families, it was not an easy time.

Dave Wilson
12th June 2008, 21:57
Hugh,
I do not think there is anyone in doubt of your vast experience but the thread is about the interface between VTS operators and Pilots. I have been involved in many cases in Europe where this problem is very real although I hasten to add the situation is getting better.

John Campbell
3rd July 2008, 18:07
Here is the latest on The "Cosco Busan" incident from Safety at Sea
email newsletter

Cosco Busan pilot to retire
02 Jul 2008

THE PILOT of the container ship that hit a bridge in San Francisco Bay last November has told authorities he will retire rather than face a state licensing board of enquiry into the incident. The owner of the boxship, then trading as Cosco Busan, claimed that the pilot was unfit. John Cota said in a letter to the licensing board that he was caught in a legal tangle because he is facing both federal and state charges, according to news reports. Because he is due to appear at a state enquiry first, he says, he will have to invoke his right to avoid self-incrimination (Fifth Amendment) so as not to jeopardise the hearing before federal authorities. “Since this is an impossible situation for me, I have only one option and that is to retire, effective October 1.” He maintains he was not at fault. A Coast Guard report says the accident was due to human error.

JC

garry Norton
23rd November 2011, 01:43
Having been both a pilot and VTS operator, the pilot was always in control and VTS advised him.In adverse weather conditions VTS sometimes advised the master if a pilot could not board. In Orkney Islands the VTS was manned by a pilot who did time on VTS between acting as a pilot.In Bahrain the VTS was ex Masters when it was set up.

garry Norton
23rd November 2011, 01:50
VTS operators in Orkney Harbours were pilots who did time at VTS and pilotage, in Bahrain when VTS was set up they were ex pilots or Masters.VTS advise the vessels and when a pilot can not be boarded may assist a vessel to navigate in their districts. In Bahrain blind pilotage was sometimes practiced so as to be advaluated for emergencies.

Robin Hughes
23rd November 2011, 11:59
The VTS has the job of not only monitoring the movements in the port but organising them. The pilot has the responsibility to the port for the safe navigation of the vessel he is on. There is often conflict when the VTS try to pressure the pilot into hurrying up an operation because of other vessel movements. eg berthing on a river or canal where other vessels are passing.

Jardine
23rd November 2011, 13:59
In the early days there seemed to be some problems with Pilot/VTS operator interface. I hope these have been resolved.

John King
11th December 2011, 08:17
I hole heatedly agree with ROBIN,I have an events scanner and listen in to Richards Bay VTS and pilots they liaise all the time,and there is no comparison between ATC and VTS except for control,does anyone think Singapore could handle the traffic it does with out pilots and VTS. Jk.

Jardine
11th December 2011, 09:26
I don't think anyone is arguing against the preposition John.

garry Norton
19th July 2012, 02:03
When I was a Orkney Pilot we also did VTS and all we gave our fellow pilot who was doing the job was advice on what was happening.
When I went to Bahrain as a VTS operator all we gave the pilot doing the job was advice even though the radar gave course to 1 degree and speed to .1 of a knot.
In Jebel Ali our radar was basic and the tower only gave what was happening in the channel and our next ship so we could advise it what it needed to do for our boarding often in the channel or breakwater, this worked well and did up to 10 ships each in a 8 hour shift.
Things have become very complicated and with pre-berthing meeting etc we would have only been capable of doing 1 to 2 ships a shift making the port impossible to run with 2 pilots a shift and over 600 movements a month.

Uricanejack
2nd October 2012, 01:50
It’s a strange title for a thread but I found the variety of views interesting. There is also a similar thread about who’s in Charge the master or the Pilot.

I have to say I found the debate weird. Why would anyone think VTS would ever be in charge. The Pilot Master interface was a specific question when I did my Class 2 1 written many years ago. Yet the answered I gave was quite different in practice.

In the past I frequently worked with pilots. Coming into various ports around the world. In all cases the Pilot would act as if he had the con. Of course having the con does not mean you are in charge.
The master was usually only up on the Bridge for the actual picking up the Pilot then would leave me in charge with the Pilot “ advising” until approaching the dock..

In practice the Pilot would have the Con. And I would monitor the progress of the Vessel. Some time in an are covered by VTS. I only stepped in a few times and questioned the Pilots actions. On those occasions I ended up feeling a bit stupid.

Demanding to know why the Pilot was not heading for the deep draught channel and heading for the regular one which was less than our draft. I then reminded the Pilot of our draught. The Pilot pointed out we had gone from a metric chart to a fathoms chart.. Then I looked stupid. The pilot however was surprised I knew exactly where the ship was. Where it was heading and what all the traffic was.. He felt I anything but stupid.. Most ships of the ERA took the pilot and paid not much attention afterwards.
I have had a few discussions about collision avoidance particularly with small vessels and insisted on speed reduction or a course alteration. Which was accepted. On most occasions. Some times the Pilot and the other vessel had already communicated with each other in their own language.. I would generally insist on clarification and got it. I found if I used to chat with the Pilot and showed an interest I would often get the chance to learn quite a bit about the port or channel we were transiting. Some time where the best bars were or other local cultural points of interest.. Not to go out on the port bridge wing during duck season when heading up the St Laurence Seaway. And other useful information.

When asked about my career goals by Old Ted Wilson. He nearly thumped me when I told him I wanted to be a Pilot so next time he came into port I could put a big dent in the ship and say “Sorry about that Cap” and leave him to the paper work. My timing was a little off he had just completed the paper work on a recent dent.

As far as I know the Panama Canal is still the only place where the Pilot takes actual charge and responsibility for the conduct of the vessel.

Now I no longer work with Pilots but transit in VTS areas all the time. I have grown used to the local systems and find them very helpful. I find it comforting to know when there is a large container ship bearing down on me. Or I am passing a Cruise Ship in a Narrow Channel with strong current. It has a Pilot on board. If we wish to we can communicate with each other with the help of VTS confident in the knowledge we are talking to the right vessel and understanding each other clearly. Something which would have been impossible 25 years ago when I was transiting the Dover Straights, Noord Hinder, Gibraltar or Malacca.

The VTS operators in Canada and America are quite different in tone. When dealing with them but Even the US Coast guard VTS will quite clearly state there are advisory only and will not give actual orders. It took a little while to get used to them. The Canadians are generally very polite and just give you updates on traffic in the area. Occasionally you will get a polite notification of the vessel on your starboard side X miles away. Which is a gentle reminder. They will not tell you what to do about it. The Americans do the same but are a bit more direct and to the point advising you very tersely about the vessel on your starboard side a recommending you alter your course, without actually telling you what to do.

They “advise” you what to do they just wont tell you..

I have had a few interesting conversations with the watch commander. And can generally advise being polite to the US Coast guard is inadvisable. And will lead to poor communication. It is much better to be just as abrupt and rude as they are. Ask them for information about what’s around. Then tell them what you are going to do directly bluntly and to the point. Don’t politely ask if its Ok. That just becomes painful.

On occasions they raise objections to your intentions. The best response is to ask directly if the are taking charge of the situation. and responsibility for the vessel.. They back down real fast..

If you decide not to follow the advice of the Pilot or VTS. That’s Ok you are in charge. You just better be right.

Robert Bush
1st December 2012, 16:10
Never been a Pilot but have piloted my own ship all be it a small one for almost ten years in some difficult pilotage waters with pilotage exemption at a time when VTS was not common.

My thoughts on VTS just like those on running a Donut Shop are it's all about People and Money.

One of the best VTS operations I saw was at Brunbuttel where it was run by Pilots as it is in Orkney so I have learned.

The difference in pay between Pilots, highest paid, Masters and VTS operators the lowest is large and some people say you get what you pay for.

In the US the USCG operatives are not wealthy and they are moved every five years. To keep them honest? Just when they have become experienced.

Pilots are nearly always good but just like in a Donut shop you get bad apples. The BC pilots in my experience were excellent and many of them had never been Masters of anything bigger than a tug towing logs, but they knew their waters and their strong tides. There has been little mention of tug's role but we all know how important it is.

Unfortunately Money rules. Hence undermanning and fatigue.

oldseamerchant
1st December 2012, 16:45
The difference in pay between Pilots, highest paid, Masters and VTS operators the lowest is large and some people say you get what you pay for.


Pilots are nearly always good but just like in a Donut shop you get bad apples. The BC pilots in my experience were excellent and many of them had never been Masters of anything bigger than a tug t



Found it difficult enough navigating through the post Robert!

Two points which I think you have given from a US perspective.

1. Pilots are not always the higher paid.

2. Most US pilots I experienced, certainly Mississippi pilots, had no big ship experience.

I was a pilot in the Gulf for many years. CBMs, SPMs Alongside the lot.

Robert Bush
2nd December 2012, 19:58
Dear Old Seamerchant,

The point that I was trying to make is that the reason why Pilots are not employed as VTS operatives, although they are the best qualified, in many ports is a financial one. Port costs would rise in many cases.

Masters are better paid than Pilots in some places, however VTS operatives are not better paid than Pilots in any ports I know of.

Regarding big ship experience for Pilots in US ports I do not see what this has to do with the subject of the thread.

Regards

garry Norton
3rd December 2012, 02:32
Having retired I now find I have traded in my pilotage and VTM for a new boss my wife and life is much more simple, lawns, garden and golf.

jmcg
21st January 2013, 21:13
Oldseamerchant.

There was a guy on S/N some years back that had the same big ship (sorry chip) syndrome as you appear to have.

Put another way- unless one had been a Master of a rough old ore carrier or a DKL owned tanker one's contribution to a thread is often undermined by your perceived higher past status.

Most of us have had a life, got a life and are just plain Mister now.


J