Thursday, March 3, 2016

Growth in Ocean Borne Freight and Diverted Container Vessels Creates More Job Opportunities

Port Authority Looks to Recruit More River Pilots
Shipping News Feature
UK – The success of the new deep water port on the Thames at London Gateway seems to be having a knock on effect in another area of employment, qualified river pilots required to escort the incoming and outgoing giant container ships as the increasingly use the port. Not only have established routes such as MSC’s Australian service designated the DP World facility as the port of choice, but its sheltered position has caused more and more vessels to be diverted from elsewhere whenever storms persist. Just this week the ‘world’s greenest’ ultra-large container vessel, the 18,800 TEU UASC Al Nefud has been diverted from Felixstowe and due to arrive March 6.

London Gateway is due to open the third berth in Q4 2016, adding capacity to handle an extra 600,000 containers per annum, while the Forth Ports recently announced plans for a £100m investment at the Port of Tilbury and are currently building a state-of-the art temperature-controlled distribution centre in the port and London Distribution Park adjacent to the port.

All this increased activity has led the Port of London Authority (PLA) into recruiting twelve new pilots this year to respond to ever more traffic on the Thames. The PLA is currently looking for candidates with a Class 1 Unlimited Certificate of Competency. Other suitably qualified candidates who can demonstrate experience relative to marine pilotage will also be considered.

The candidates will typically undertake a twenty-eight week training course consisting of training on the PLA’s ship bridge simulator and tug simulator, training in Vessel Traffic Services and on board tugs and ships, with regular reviews, assessments and oral exams. This will qualify them as a Class 4 pilot able to handle smaller vessels and they will have the opportunity to work up to being an unrestricted pilot, able to handle some of the largest ships in the world. Peter Steen, director of marine operations said:

“We are seeing a general increase in terminal traffic including containers, trailers, bulks like aggregates and cement, and oil products. And Thames terminals are investing in new infrastructure that is expected to increase their throughput even more. The new pilots will help us handle the increase in vessels visiting the Thames. This is an excellent opportunity for a career that offers challenges and a diversity of marine activities in a growing business.”

Last September the PLA launched the findings of an economic report as part of the Thames Vision, which found the port was providing over 44,000 jobs and bringing £4 billion GVA to the UK economy. The Vision, a 20 year plan for the river, is forecasting an increase in throughput from its existing 45.4 million tonnes to 60 million tonnes of cargo each year, which will mean this year’s recruitment, is only start of the PLA pilotage team recruitment drive.

The Thames sees a stream of diverse vessel types with a wide variety of ships, from dredgers to warships and tankers to superyachts. And now the Thames is also able to welcome the world’s largest 400 metre long container ships, which requires specialised training. Robin Mortimer, PLA chief executive observed:

“The Port of London grew to 45 million tonnes in 2015 and is the UK’s busiest inland waterway. We are forecasting that over the next two decades the Port of London will become the largest it has ever been and we are adding to the team to help bring a variety of ships, including the largest in the world, safely on to the Thames.”

Any suitably qualified candidates can apply through the PLA website here.