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The odd one(s) out

Fully certified Redwise-DCP pilots were called upon to pilot two “specials” recently. Being no strangers to fully laden VLCC’s, Car carriers and container vessels, sometimes there is an odd one out that draws some extra attention.

The first exceptional one being the Ultra Large Ore Carrier NSU Brazil with a deadweight of 399.821 ton. Fully loaded with iron ore coming to Rotterdam with a draft of 22m. Being restricted to the deep draft route, this “fine” lady was piloted professionally from Cherbourg to Rotterdam by our deep sea pilot. Outbound in ballast she was again safely piloted by one of Redwise’s deep sea pilots. Bulk carriers do not often take deep sea pilots, but with this mass of steel it isn’t a luxury. Neither with or without a full cargo.

Traffic awareness and (un)safe navigation: the purpose and effectiveness of taking a deep sea pilot was demonstrated during the recent voyage of a fully loaded VLCC “Maran Atalanta” with a 20m draft. While entering the Deep water route in the Dover straits, our pilot was requested by a fast overtaking vessel to “Move out of the way”. For a deep draft vessel this isn’t possible at this stage of the voyage due to the close proximity of the Sandettie bank. Of course this information was passed back to the overtaking container vessel. Indeed, had the officer or master on the bridge of the 300m length and 14m draft container vessel been better prepared and taken note on the advice given on the chart, they would have understood there is very little room to do overtake. Rather than simply slowing down, the container vessel’s navigator took, as icing on the cake, the extraordinary decision to proceed the wrong way up into the south west bound traffic lane. Apparently choosing speed over safety of navigation.

The below screenshot was provided by another deep sea pilot who had by no means expected this move, the container vessel in the opposing lane, head on with an approaching vessel. Names have been blurred out not to discredit any party.

Modern tonnage: Closely following the foregoing events was the voyage with a near brand new dual fuel VLCC. VLCC’s are no exception, nor are other tankers to the daily work of Redwise’s deep sea pilots, but the two big tanks LNG on deck made it especially noteworthy.

Several oil majors, have the requirement to arrange for a deep sea pilot included in their charter parties, especially if the Master of the vessels hasn’t been in the dense traffic of the English channel and the North Sea are in the past couple of months. Some tanker operators do it on their own initiative to reduce risks and fatigue.

Deep Sea pilots under Dutch law must hold a bachelor qualification or equivalent, have served 4 years as master or as river/port pilot without limitations. Upon entry an extensive theoretical and practical training program is mandatory before being examined by an independent panel of examinators and an accompanied examination voyage, before receiving their certificate. Renewal on a five yearly basis follows the same systematic as with the STCW convention in respect of active time over a 5 year period.

Fully qualified and certified/licensed Deep Sea pilots, sometimes also called North sea pilots, of Redwise-DCP are engaged by shipowners, agents and charterers to assist the Master and bridge teams of vessel in the waters between the entrance of the English Channel across the North Sea up to Skagen before entering the Baltic Sea, Mongstad in Norway, or Hound Point in Scotland, as well as the Irish sea. With the ever increasing traffic density, establishment of windfarms and fast rotations of both car carriers and container vessels, the Deep Sea pilots provide a helping hand to the Masters and the bridge team. It enables them to really comply with the rest- and working hours and reduce the risks associated with crew fatigue following: navigating, port calls, cargo operations, surveys, vetting etc. Recommended by IMO resolution A1080 and BA 5500, Redwise-DCP deepsea pilots are fully trained and certified in accordance with Dutch law and the Dutch Pilot Act.

Redwise-DCP is a division of Redwise providing deep sea pilots and offshore-VTS operators. In the latter capacity they safely guide vessels around obstructions, salvage operations, seismic survey and drilling operations in traffic lanes outside the 12 miles zone.