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Intransigence on maritime pilots counterproductive

Dear Sir,

The report on the TV news last night (May 21, 2020), concerning the supply ships bringing goods into Bermuda needing pilots each week, stated the Maritime Act 1962 required the use of pilots.

I was under the impression the Government was eager to embrace technology with fintech being at the fore of its agenda and with the way it uses WhatsApp for communicating during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Because of the pandemic, it appears the owners of the ships delivering goods to Bermuda on a weekly basis wished to protect their employees from the virus. They applied to the Government to cancel the requirement of having a pilot to bring the ships into port during this crisis.

It is my understanding that, to protect the local population, the crews are not allowed off the ships. Should any of the crew get infected, it could prevent the ship sailing, stopping the provision of goods to the island.

The Act passed in 1962 was at the time of loran — a radio navigation system operating over long distances. Computers were not in use then, but now all maritime charts are available and can be viewed on an iPhone, although I am sure all of these ships have relatively large computer screens that show the channels, buoys, etc.

With all commercial vessels required to have an automatic identification system, they can see exactly where they are, thanks to a global positioning system.

The early days of GPS generally put you within 50 feet of your actual position. (I remember some years ago being on a yacht in St George's Harbour and the GPS had us in St Peter's Church!) That has improved vastly in recent years.

The captains of these vessels are entering and leaving Bermuda ports on a weekly basis and know the channels like the backs of their hands. Should there be a new captain on board, I can understand the requirement for a pilot. But, in the present situation, I believe the Government should grant a waiver and allow these vessels to enter and leave port without a pilot.



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Published May 25, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated May 25, 2020 at 8:51 am)

Intransigence on maritime pilots counterproductive

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