Harbour pilots help guide 400 ships into port daily

Harbour pilots help guide 400 ships intoport daily

23 October 2006

published by http://www.channelnewsasia.com/

SINGAPORE: There are more than 150 harbour pilots to help guide around 400 ships into Singapore’s ports every day.

These harbour pilots not only have to navigate ships, they have to deal with the haze as well.

Harbour Pilot Tan Teck Kheng has been in the business for 24 years.

He has observed that traffic in the busy sea lanes can build up with the haze.

“If your visibility is something like less than three miles then you will have to start bringing down your speed to maybe six to eight knots,” he said.

On the bridge, the pilot can use the ship’s technology, including radar and GPS, to spot other ships through the haze.

But when the haze is thick and visibility drops, the crew will have to take extra safety precautions.

Mr Tan said: “The master will have to post additional lookouts and we have to sound the sound signal to make known of our presence to the other vessels in the vicinity.”

But the recent haze is nothing like what Teck Kheng experienced when Singapore’s three-hour Pollutant Standards Index hit a record high of 226 in September 1997.

“Back in 1997, visibility was even worse. It was only about 300 metres. And with three hundred metres we have to pilot with extreme caution,” he recalled.

Although the present situation does not require extreme measures, the haze has, nonetheless, affected operations.

It now takes a longer time to unload cargo from a ship.

Due to the haze, it takes two hours to board and berth the ship — a process that usually takes about an hour and a half on a clear day. – CNA/so


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