Seven miles before the entrance to the Port of Pra’ the call comes in from the ship, requesting the final instructions before the Maritime Pilot comes onboard.
Three miles left to go and another call comes in. The maritime pilots are aboard their boat heading straight for the ship, which begins to slow down in the meantime. It is the ‘MSC Teresa,’ a 14,000 TEU container transporter. The meeting takes place just a few miles from the entrance to the port.
The two pilots are ready to jump onboard. The sun is shining and the sea is calm. Today the jump from the tugboat to the pilot ladder, (a rope ladder that is rolled down along the side of the ship) is a piece of cake, but that isn’t always the case. When it’s raining, with strong winds and rough seas the passage becomes quite challenging. You have to be careful and wait for the right moment to jump.
The pilot ladder is steep. In order to climb it you have to be agile and keep your balance. The smallest distraction is enough for the risk of falling into the sea to become a reality.
The two pilots are welcomed aboard by a member of the crew that accompanies them onto the bridge.
The captain is already waiting for them there. After a quick handshake it’s straight down to business, They talk about the characteristics of the ship, the docking strategies to be implemented based on the weather conditions, the mooring location and the other ships present along the quay.
The familiarity with the port, experience manoeuvring any type of ship as well as the capacity to manage an emergency situation on behalf of the pilots, combined with the knowledge that the captain has of his own ship, are an absolute guarantee for the maximum safety of the operation.
On the basis of the navigation code the hierarchical ranks of the pilots are equivalent to the highest serving official on deck. The pilots of Genoa are organised into a cooperative. The hierarchical structure is as follows: one Master Maritime Pilot, John Gatti, two Vice Captains Francesco Bozzo and Gianfranco Aste and twenty-one pilots.
Meanwhile back onboard the MSC Teresa: the Master Pilot begins giving directions on the route required to reach the entrance of the port. The Ship’s Captain relays the directions to the helmsman, while the Second Pilot ensures that the manoeuvres are carried out correctly by the Officials and the sailors onboard the bridge.
When the evolution of the ship begins, the orders are relayed to by radio to the tugboats, while manoeuvres in tight waters are kept under control by the use of both the engine and rudder when necessary. Once the rotation is complete and the ship has reached the final mooring position, the cables are passed to the line handlers who secure them to the bollards.
Just as we said the weather is quite favourable today, but everything becomes more complicated on the days when a sharp wind blows in from the North. On such an occasion it becomes imperative to have perfect synchronisation of the Nautical Technical Services and flawless management of any manoeuvres carried out.
Every Pilot from the Corps of Genoa carries out between 700 and 1000 manoeuvres every year. This guarantees a vast bank of knowledge and experience in the management of any situation that may arise from their work. This is another reason why the captains of the numerous 14,000 TEU ships that are becoming more and more numerous at the PSA Voltri Pra Terminal, can put their complete trust in these professionals.