The International Pilot

The International Pilot is the magazine of the maritime pilots’ community. It was launched in 1997 being its main objective to collect and illustrate essential information concerning our members’ profession. In terms of content, the primary topics are Maritime Safety and Pilotage among others of common interest within the industry.

The magazine readership exceeds 8,500 subscribers including maritime pilots and their National Associations as well as other sister Associations and stakeholders worldwide.

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A message from the IMPA President published in Issue 49 of The International Pilot.


While 2020 has been one of the darkest years in decades, 2021 holds the promise of renewal and of a gradual return to a more hospitable world. How exactly the world will have changed, by then, will take some time to clearly understand but, since few events have had such a direct and simultaneous impact on all of humankind as Covid-19 has had, it is fair to think that at least some changes will be long-lasting. As the saying goes, when something shifts within you, something shifts around you, and there is simply no way back to the pre-existing order.

But one thing that has not changed, is that the world can rely on its marine pilots! Throughout the crisis, pilot

s around the world have been playing a crucial role in keeping vital supply chains open. Day in and day out, pilots have steadily been doing their job, and I thank everyone for this. This excellent work is the first and the best way to promote the value of our profession, and to contribute to the public good, and this has certainly been noted by decision-makers, including IMO.

For me, the pandemic has meant piloting full-time, on the St. Lawrence, while managing the affairs of IMPA. One issue, in particular, has been on my mind more than any other. It is one that goes deep, and that is especially important for me.

One of IMPA’s central objectives is to further the personal safety of pilots during pilotage operations. For this reason, IMPA has devoted significant resources over time to review pilot transfer practices, develop guidance, and make representations internationally, especially on issues related to pilot ladders.


When colleagues lose their lives in the context of their work, as was the case with the tragic passing of Captain Sherwood, and of Captain Murray, in the Port of New York, I feel like a part of me has gone with them.

The passing in 2018 of one of our colleagues in Lisbon, in circumstances that, quite simply, should never have happened is also both unforgettable, and unforgivable.

In all cases, irrespective of their specific circumstances which, I know, can involve many factors, the use made of pilot boats did not help. In my view, a pilot boat should keep you safe. In particular, questions regarding the specific position of pilot boats during transfers have not yet been studied systematically around the world.

So, it is with this in mind that IMPA established a special Working Group to undertake a study of the considerations involved in this aspect of pilot transfers. The Working Group will review international practices regarding the position of pilot boats when pilots are boarding and disembarking, including the rationale for the practices in place, and for their local variations.

The Working Group will identify relevant studies conducted by pilot groups and other stakeholders on this topic, and commission its own studies, as appropriate. It will also gather data regarding incidents, analyze investigation reports and their findings, and assess the extent to which specific risks can be associated with various practices.

The Group will report to IMPA’s Executive Committee within the next year and present recommendations to mitigate risks, if such recommendations can be formulated in light of the evidence gathered.

In closing, I am used to meeting many IMPA members around the world every year, and while it has obviously been difficult to have in-person meetings, I have been meeting remotely with many national associations. Everyone is, of course, looking forward to get back to normal and, in particular, to celebrate the end of these troubled times at the next IMPA Congress. The Congress, as you know, was originally scheduled for May 2020, and was postponed twice. We are now excited by the prospect of holding it, in Cancun, in November 2021. This will be a great opportunity to celebrate the comradeship of pilots worldwide and I look forward to seeing many of you there.

Until then, I send you my best wishes for the New Year and hope that everyone will stay safe.

Simon Pelletier


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