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Check pilot system

Issue number: MI-2010-011-SI-05
Who it affects: All ship operators, masters, pilots and pilotage providers
Issue owner: Australian Maritime Safety Authority
Operation affected: Marine: Shipboard operations
Background: Investigation Report 282-MI-2010-011
Date: 24 October 2012

Safety issue description

As a measure to assess the adequacy of the individual systems of coastal pilotage and pilot competency, the check pilot system is ineffective.

Factors limiting the effectiveness of the check pilot system include the:

  • absence of uniform assessment standards against which to make an objective assessment because there is no pilotage safety management system with standard, risk-analysed pilotage procedures and practices;
  • conflicts of interest as a result of the check pilot being remunerated by the pilotage provider to assess a peer on behalf of AMSA;
  • conflicts of interest as a result of the working relationships between the pilots and between pilots and their provider; and
  • lack of a formal review process for each assessment to ensure corrective action is taken and for continuous improvement.

 

Proactive Action

Action organisation: Australian Maritime Safety Authority
Action number: MI-2010-011-NSA-058
Date: 24 October 2012
Action status: Closed

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) advised the ATSB that common pilotage procedures through the implementation of the industry passage plan and the development of standard operating procedures for conducting the pilotage task will make the check pilot system more effective and transparent. In addition, AMSA advised that:

A review of the training requirements and check pilotage regime is being carried out. The opportunity to use simulation in training and for check runs will be further investigated, with reference to processes followed in other, related operational industries.

It recognises that the goal is to have pilots who are competent in coastal pilotage procedures. In addition, the check pilot system requires ‘check pilots’ to undergo additional training, including workplace assessment (e.g. Certificate IV training program).

In response to this safety issue, AMSA also advised that it is considering the issue of the independence of check pilots, including how check pilots are engaged and remunerated.

ATSB response:

The ATSB considers the safety action taken and proposed by AMSA has the potential to address some of the issues in relation to the check pilot system. However, the effective implementation of pilotage provider safety management systems along with the development of an appropriate safety culture in coastal pilotage is also crucial to addressing the safety issue.


 

Correspondence

Date received: 21 January 2013
Response from: Australian Maritime Safety Authority
Response text:

AMSA has previously advised the ATSB that common pilotage procedures through the implementation of the industry passage plan and the development of standard operating procedures for conducting the pilotage task will make the check pilot system more effective and transparent.

Through the Coastal Pilotage System software AMSA is implementing a process whereby check pilot runs can be collated and analysed.

This is expected to be implemented in the first quarter of 2013.
AMSA is currently conducting a review of the training requirements, including the check pilotage regime. Improvements that may come out of the review may include:

(a) Increased opportunities to use simulation in training and for check runs
(b) Implementation of uniform assessment standards against which to make an objective assessment and pilotage safety management system with standard, risk analysed pilotage procedures and practices; and
(c) Implementation of a formal review process for each assessment to ensure corrective action is taken and for continuous improvement.

AMSA will continue to encourage and foster the development of a safety culture in pilotage, including support of the various initiatives to promote a structured approach to anonymous reporting such as the ATSB Repcon marine system and the international CHIRP Maritime system (Maritime Confidential Hazardous Incident Reporting Programme).

ATSB response:

The safety action taken and proposed has the potential to adequately address the safety issue.

Date received: 05 September 2013
Response from: Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA)
Response text:

AMSA has implemented an electronic process to track and develop reports based on check pilot assessments. This provides AMSA with the means to identify potential trends and then work to address these trends (as may be required).

The Pilot Training Working Group (PTWG) will also review the check pilot assessment criteria as part of its future work. In addition, AMSA is developing an on-line system to complete and forward results from check voyages.

As per the outcome of the 3rd pilot training workshop, the oral examination (interview) for potential new check pilots has been identified for review by the PTWG.  In addition, pilotage providers participate in the interview process as a member of the panel – for example, a potential ARP check pilot will have a senior ARP pilot on the panel, along with the Manager, VT&PS and the Principal Pilotage Officer.

ATSB response:

The safety action taken and proposed has the potential to adequately address the safety issue.

Date received: 06 May 2014
Response from: Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA)
Response text:

The Check Pilot framework, incorporating aspects related to check pilot selection, training, check runs, check assessment criteria and the use of simulation, has been agreed by the CPTWG as one of the key areas of the group’s future work and focus.

The group’s broad membership will ensure a revised check pilot framework is developed through effective consultation – particularly involving AMSA, coastal pilots and pilotage providers.

Date received: 06 August 2014
Response from: Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA)
Response text:

The Check Pilot framework, incorporating aspects related to check pilot selection, training, check runs, check assessment criteria and the use of simulation, has been agreed by the CPTWG as one of the key areas of the group’s future work and focus.

The group’s broad membership will ensure a revised check pilot framework is developed through effective consultation – particularly involving AMSA, coastal pilots and pilotage providers.

ATSB response:

The ATSB will reassess the safety issue's status when the revised check pilot system, based on the framework being developed, is implemented.

Date received: 11 February 2015
Response from: AMSA
Response text:

AMSA conducted the last round of Check Pilot assessments in November 2014 and February 2015 in accordance with the existing framework per MO54.

Of note is the new requirement for pilotage providers to endorse (via nomination) prospective Check Pilot applicants to AMSA (as opposed to individual pilots nominating themselves). This requirement addresses inconsistencies between the aspirations of individual pilots, and the commercial ramifications related to internal remuneration arrangements for Check Pilots.

AMSA considers the concept of revising the Check Pilot framework to be an item for ongoing review in consultation with relevant coastal pilotage stakeholders, as part of the scope of the CPTWG.

ATSB response:

After AMSA’s next update, the ATSB will reassess the status of the safety issue based on further progress in revising the check pilot system framework.

Date received: 01 February 2016
Response from: Australian Maritime Safety Authority
Response text:

As part of AMSA’s considerations related to reviewing the check pilot framework, AMSA recently reviewed the contents of the ‘Guidance Notes for Check Pilot Assessment Voyages’ (form AMSA 15). Key changes to the form as result of the review include:

-  General layout changes to improve readability;

-  Updates and corrections to some terms and references;

-  An updated address to submit completed forms to;

-  The addition of a (N/A) checkbox option for some performance criteria (where appropriate);

-  The deletion of the ‘List the Answer’ comments box from Performance Criteria 12 (based on pilot feedback, this was considered too onerous to be written out in full on each occasion); and

-  The deletion of the comments box from “Overall Result” page (based on pilot feedback, this was considered to duplicate the comments box in the ‘Summary of Pilot Performance’ section).

The amendments outlined above are considered to improve the form by simplifying the completion requirements and by removing any duplication of information. The form’s content related to the various performance criteria remains unchanged as the criteria are considered appropriate for the purposes of assessing coastal pilot performance and competency.

Any future changes to the performance criteria (or the greater check pilot framework) will be considered via a process of consultation with relevant coastal pilotage stakeholders.

It is worth noting that in assessing check pilot applicants, a senior check pilot participates in the selection panel.

AMSA receives on average some 90+ check pilot assessments per annum. These assessments are registered and reviewed in full by AMSA for consistency, detection of any trends and/or behaviours and whether any further action may be required.

   
Current issue status: Adequately addressed
Status justification:

The safety action taken by AMSA has addressed a number of key aspects of this safety issue. In this respect, the implementation of standard passage plans and pilotage provider safety management systems that include standard pilotage procedures is important. The introduction of a review process for check pilot assessments received by AMSA is also positive. Collectively, these actions have adequately reduced the risk related to this issue. As the check pilot system remains an AMSA system that requires a provider's pilots to assess colleagues on behalf of AMSA, it is neither a completely independent, external system nor an internal system.

 
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Last update 22 April 2016