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Section 25 of resolution 1 of the STCW 1978 conference is clear on the continuing responsibilities of the officer of the watch of a ship under pilotage: 'If the officer of the watch is in any doubt as to the pilot's actions or intentions, he should seek clarification from the pilot; if doubt still exists, he should notify the master immediately and take whatever action is necessary before the master arrives.'
The master must employ a pilot whenever the safe navigation of the vessel or local regulations make this necessary. Before allowing the pilot to take over the conn, the master must make the pilot familiar with the vessel's characteristics. The master is in no way relieved of his responsibilities for safe navigation by the presence of a pilot and he must continue to monitor navigation, speed, draught, depths and courses as well as adherence to the rules of the road. He must ensure that the watch officer and quartermaster are capable of skillfully executing all of the pilot's orders.
If any doubt exists about the pilot's qualifications or ability, the master must take such action as he sees fit to obtain a pilot that is suitably qualified. Alternatively, he may proceed with the original pilot, meanwhile taking extraordinary precautions to validate the actions and recommendations of the pilot.
The master must remain discretely alert and attentive to the pilot's handling of the vessel. If he judges the pilot to be in error, then he must counsel the pilot. Should the pilot fail to act on the master's counsel and the master judges the safety of the vessel to be in jeopardy, then the master must relieve the pilot, without delay.

5.8.1 Panama canal
An exception of the master's ultimate authority is the Panama Canal, where the pilot takes over responsibility for the vessel and the Panama Canal Company assumes responsibility for any pilot error. In this case, the master may not relieve the pilot, but may object to any actions taken, record the incident in the log and register a complaint with the Panama Canal Authority.

5.8.2 Master's instructions to the pilot

Case study
A 67,000 DWT tanker carrying No.6 fuel oil ran aground while approaching the delivery terminal at Bayonne, New Jersey. 100 tonnes of cargo was spilled into the Kill van Kull shipping channel. The United States Government and the governments of New York and New Jersey demanded a USD 25 million financial guarantee to cover potential spill clean up costs. The owners P&I club provided the guarantee. Three years later, all government claims were settled for USD 4 million, or $40,000 per tonne spilled.

Case analysis The ship was under the direction of an experienced pilot at the time of its stranding. There is no explanation for the event, other than plain inattention to the correct navigation of the ship. When masters and officers leave the navigation of the ship entirely to the pilot, the possibility of one-man errors is significantly increased. One of the pillars of navigational safety is that all navigation is checked by at least two people. When under pilotage, the master and Watch officers must do everything possible to verify that the pilot is manoeuvring the ship prudently and safely.

The pilot, having special knowledge of the waters the vessel is about to enter, is a valuable assistant and one the master can rarely do without. However, the pilot is only an advisor to the master and the management of the ship is still the responsibility of the master. It is up to him to plan the transit and review the plan with the pilot, so that all necessary precautions and actions will be taken well in advance. Before permitting the pilot to direct the actions of his ship, the master should advise the pilot of all factors affecting its manoeuvrability. A 'master/pilot information exchange form' is provided to the pilot. It should include:

• Draft forward and aft.
• Length and beam overall.
• Distance from bow to bridge.
• Distance from bow to centre manifold.
• Distance from bridge to stern.
• Length of bulbous bow extension beyond hull.
• Scoops, stabilisers, etc. protruding below or outside the line of the hull.
• Type of bridge control of the engine.

• Thrusters, bow and stern.
• Rate of turn indicator.
• Berthing doppler system.

• Engine and propeller type.
• Speeds and RPM combinations.
• Turning circles at set telegraph speeds (diagram).
• Crash stop distances and motions (diagram).
• Squat vs. speed table.
• Normal stopping distances.

• Maximum astern power (as a percentage of maximum ahead power).
• Defects in communications or steering equipment.
• Defects and delays in main engine response.

• Whether the vessel is gas free.
• Unusual hazards of the cargo.

The form must be signed by the master and pilot and becomes part of the vessel's records.
In addition, the master may wish to advise the pilot of his policies regarding:
• Maximum speed the master wishes to be used.
• Wheelhouse conversation to be limited to that essential for the navigation of the vessel.
• Pilot to advise the master well in advance of his intentions during the more difficult parts of the transit, especially in bends and narrow channels.
• Minimum under-keel clearance permitted.
• Minimum visibility in which the vessel is to be moved.
• Maximum wind force docking and un-docking.
• Use of tugs and number required.
• Mooring line sequence desired.
• Which side will be moored to the quay.
• Anchoring requirements.
• The master to be called immediately if the pilot is in doubt regarding the navigation situation, performance of the watch officer or quartermaster, or performance of the vessel's steering and engine.

The master must make known any specific requirements he may have regarding, meeting and overtaking other vessels, speed near waterfront facilities and other precautions.
Only those personnel directly engaged in the navigation of the ship should be permitted in the wheelhouse while in restricted waters.
After the vessel has been docked or moored without incident, the master should make his satisfaction clearly known to the pilot. Praise is as important as constructive advice in developing a professional relationship with pilots.

5.8.3 Watch officer duties
For some portions of the transit under pilotage, the master may be absent from the wheelhouse. At such times, it is the duty of the watch officer to evaluate the pilot's orders and actions and to determine whether or not they indicate a prudent course.
The watch officer must also diligently verify that each of the pilot's orders are carried out correctly by the engineers or the quartermaster. Engine orders must be recorded in the 'engine order book'. He must continue to accurately fix the position of the ship at frequent intervals.

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