The International Group's Pilotage Report - An IGP&I Press Release

December 2020

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The International Group reports on claims arising from incidents involving vessels under pilotage – liabilities exceeding US$1.8bn

The publication reports on incidents for the period 1999 – 2019 that have given rise to P&I liabilities in excess of US$100,000 occurring when vessels are under pilotage.

The report has been prepared by the International Group (IG), in response to concerns expressed by the IG Clubs’ shipowner Boards of Directors, to understand the severity and frequency of the P&I liabilities that arise when a vessel is under pilotage, where in the world those liabilities continue to arise, and considers recommendations to mitigate the risk of such liabilities occurring in the future.

The scope of this report covers a twenty-year period between 1999 and 2019 in which there were 1,046 recorded incidents and where each incident gave rise to P&I liabilities in excess of US$100,000. Over that period, overall liabilities totalled more than US$1.82 billion. The report recognises that there is generally a shared responsibility for such incidents when they occur and recommends enhanced and repeated training on Bridge Resource Management as a means to reduce risk. Whilst the number and overall cost of the incidents covered by the report are significant, when viewed with reference to the number of shipping movements under pilotage in and out of ports worldwide in any one year, the frequency of such incidents is extremely low. However, when incidents do occur, the consequences can be severe. This is particularly the case in those incidents which involve large container vessels and contacts with gantry cranes, and these incidents are identified as a focus for further work.

Notwithstanding advancement in training and technology, it remains likely nonetheless that there will continue to be incidents of loss or damage that arise with vessels under pilotage. When such incidents occur, particularly those with the more severe consequences, the report recommends that there should be more specific follow-up action than has generally occurred to date in order to facilitate fact-finding, root cause analysis, and appropriate risk mitigation measures to prevent recurrence. The need for engagement of both pilotage bodies and port authorities with the IG Clubs in this regard is extremely important and it is hoped that a collaborative approach in the investigation of incidents will serve to achieve the desired objective of identifying and implementing risk mitigation measures that will reduce future risk.

Through the unique structure of the International Group, the member Clubs share between them their large loss exposures, including where vessels are under pilotage, and their respective knowledge and expertise on matters relating to shipowners’ liabilities and the insurance and reinsurance of such liabilities, is instrumental in seeking to reduce the risk of such incidents occurring in the future. Collaboration and co-operation between all relevant industry and governmental parties is crucial to achieving this objective.

Statement from the Chairman of the International Group’s Pilotage subcommittee – Chris Adams, said:

“This report provides a valuable overview of the nature, frequency, severity and overall cost associated with incidents that occur when a vessel is navigating with the assistance of a pilot. Although the overall cost of such incidents over the twenty-year period covered by this report is very significant, the frequency of incidents in comparison with the overall number of ship movements annually is thankfully very low. Nonetheless, there continue to be concerns, particularly in respect of recent and recurrent incidents involving large container vessels and contact with gantry cranes. In recommending continued and enhanced focus upon training in relation Bridge Resource Management whilst vessels are under pilotage, the report recognises the need to acknowledge the role played by ships’ masters and navigating officers in the vessels’ passage under pilotage. However, in order to better understand the root cause of incidents and to identify measures that will serve to avoid recurrence, the report also proposes a collaborative approach for the future in the investigation of such incidents. The International Group therefore will welcome the co-operation and support of pilotage authorities and the shipowner and pilotage representative bodies, in particular the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and the International Maritime Pilots Association (IMPA), in working to achieve this aim of reducing the number and severity of such incidents.”