The coastal pilot training program and ongoing professional development is inadequate.
Factors that limit the effectiveness of the training program and ongoing professional development include the:
- absence of a pilotage safety management system for trainees to learn standard, risk-analysed pilotage procedures and practices, consistent with best practice; the training program’s ‘self-learning’ approach by observing different systems and practices of pilots that promulgates non-standard systems when trainees develop individual piloting systems increases the potential for sub-optimal practices;
- bridge resource management training that is not backed up with a focus on systems-based risk management through standard procedures and systems by using all resources, such as the coastal vessel traffic service’s capability;
- absence of coastal pilotage focused bridge simulator training to augment practical shipboard training;
- absence of training in the use of contemporary electronic charting systems;
- motivation for self-funded trainees to complete the training program quickly; and
- over-reliance on the training guide and subjective check pilot assessments to ensure that trainee pilots with little or no local area experience can acquire the necessary knowledge in the prescribed minimum number of transits.
Response from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority
AMSA recognises the opportunities to improve the training and professional development of coastal pilots. As part of the implementation of MO 54 issue 5 training was highlighted and the following initiatives adopted by AMSA:
- workshops focusing on initial training and ongoing professional development were held on 2 February and 19 June 2012, and a pilotage training steering committee has been established to progress work in this area
- an e-learning portal has been established on AMSA’s website to focus on pilot and general training opportunities.
It should be highlighted that the current system depends on reaching stated competence levels, including a number of training runs on piloted vessels. When it is felt that the trainee is ready, then there is an assessment process which includes a minimum number of formal ‘check’ runs. The current process requires trained and certified check pilots to assess performance.
AMSA agrees that continuing professional development needs to be relevant, and address changes in the industry (for example, development of electronic systems in pilotage and the introduction of the Under Keel Clearance Management system for the Torres Strait). The AMSA training workshops and review process is addressing these elements.
AMSA also notes that simulators could be an effective tool in training and competence assessment. MO 54 issue 5 includes the option to use simulator training.
There is an opportunity to include these points in the scheduled 12 month review of MO 54 issue 5 (commencing 1 July 2012).
The ATSB acknowledges the safety action taken and proposed by AMSA to address the safety issue and notes that the action will be facilitated by the introduction of standard passage plans and standard operating procedures for the pilotage task. However, the acquisition of local area knowledge, particularly in confined areas, and the use of electronic charting systems by pilots needs to be specifically addressed through focused training that includes the use of bridge simulators.