By Erin Ferguson
Nassau, Bahamas – The Bahamas Maritime Pilots Association (BMPA) invited All Maritime Industry Stakeholders to join to engage in a discussion in an Emergency Conclave: State of Pilotage & Safety in Freeport . The Bahamas Maritime Pilots Association (BMPA) addressed the issue of clarity on Marine Pilots in Freeport. Invited were some of their partners from Pilot Associations worldwide with an intent to discuss Best Practices, International Maritime Organization (IMO) Standards, Insurance Requirements, and Safety and Training guidelines.
The conclave took place on March 10, 2014 at the Pelican Bay Hotel Convention Centre. S pecial Guests included Nick Cutmore, Secretary General of the International Maritime Pilots Association (IMPA), and Captain Kurt Duncan, President of the Trinidad and Tobago Pilots Association. Topics on the agenda were: Pilots’ Resignations, Anchorage, HarborLights Software, Role of the Marine Pilot, Major Safety Concerns, Proper Training Standards, Insurance and Liability, Maritime Law in the Bahamas, Port Authority in Freeport, Major Maritime Incidents, Maritime Industry and the Economy.
The following is written by Erin Ferguson: “Our member Pilots have resigned from both Buckeye Partners LP/BORCO and Freeport Harbour Company (FHC), they have not been fired. Two of their members were fired on December 31st 2013 which they viewed as a possible intimidation tactic used by FHC to hault the progress of the BMPA’s push towards Independent Pilotage.
The Full compliment of Pilots at FHC was 9 Pilots as of December 2013, they fired 2 Pilots as a supposed intimidation tactic to the BMPA. That left a balance of 7 Pilots. Of the 7 Pilots remaining 5 have resigned from FHC. FHC is left with 2 Pilots. We would like to make it clear as well that the only 2 remaining Pilots at FHC are the Port Director, Orlando Forbes, and Ellison Charles Rolle, Marine Manager. Their duties also obviously includes Administrative functions. Additionally the Harbour company hired one additional Pilot in January 2014 whom we do not account for in the number of Pilots because the BMPA has filed a medical investigation complaint with the Ministry of Transportation. This Pilot has a very serious illness and should not under any circumstances be operating as a Pilot.
Buckeye Partners LP/BORCO had 9 Pilots in total, 6 of them resigned. This means 3 remaining Pilots and 1 of them is the Marine Manager, who is on light duty for injury to his leg. Buckeye Partners LP/BORCO only has 2 Pilots remaining, one of which is a trainee.
Simply put, this means in total there were 18 Pilots servicing the needs of both FHC and Buckeye Partners LP/BORCO as of December 2013. Once the resignation notice period expires on March 28, 2014 and all of the memeber Pilots of the BMPA are officially out of the companies, there will only be 4 qualified Pilots, one of which is a trainee available to do the Job that was already a strain for 18 Pilots to do.
Our claims of Freeport being an “unsafe harbour” are quite sound. Any Maritime professional examining the complete Neglect of the Anchorage area where in one week of October 2013 a ship’s anchor was dropped on BTC cable, resulting in a stop of all communications in Grand Bahama, including emergency services, and the same week the Formosa Falcon Tanker was Beached off Eight Mile Rock filled with 2 million Gallons of Fuel Oil. Just last week two ships on Anchorage drifted into each other and collided because of a change in currents. Clearly there should be Pilots on the Anchorage, FHC and Buckeye Partners LP/BORCO has taken no action.
BMPA has been organised to encourage safe and responsible operation of marine pilots and other marine professionals; to develop advice and guidance for best industrial practice among its members and promote criteria for best practice to all who have responsibilities for, or interest in, offering professional maritime pilotage services. BMPA’s principal role will be to advocate measures to enhance the safety of life and property at sea and pollution. It will represent the interests of its members, in matters concerning the safe operation of pilotage and marine services offered in The Commonwealth of The Bahamas, to local and regional bodies and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). It will consult with the IMO, government agencies and other non-governmental organisations. BMPA has also formed strategic relationships with International Maritime Pilots Association (IMPA), Trinidad & Tabago Pilots’ Association, American Pilots Association (APA), the Organization of Black Maritime Graduates, SUNY Maritime College, and several Pilot Associations in the United States including, Florida Harbour Pilots, Tampa Bay Pilots, Cape Canaveral Pilots, Biscayne Bay Pilots, Port Everglades Pilots, Sandy Hook Pilots of New York and New
Jersey, and Houston Pilots.
Contact: Erin A. Ferguson, Managing Director, Bahamas Maritime Pilots Association at firstname.lastname@example.org or 242-552-3277.