Sullom Voe - Pilotage
The Pilotage Direction is made pursuant to Section 7 of the Pilotage Act 1987 (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Act’).
The Council directs that Pilotage shall be compulsory for all ships navigating within the Sullom Voe Harbour Area except those specified in Section 7 of the Act and detailed below. Authorised pilots are available on a 24 hour basis.
The transportation of pilots at Sullom Voe will normally be carried out by the Authority’s pilot vessels. A helicopter may be used at certain times and under certain conditions.
Ships required to take a pilot onboard shall do so in the following positions:
- Ships approaching the north entrance of the harbour area should rendezvous with the pilot in position Lat. 60º38.3’N Long. 001º14.8’W with Point of Fethaland lighthouse bearing 260ºT x 1.8M.
- Ships approaching the south east entrance of the harbour area should rendezvous with the pilot in position Lat. 60º28.5’N Long. 00º56.5’W with Firths Voe lighthouse bearing 260ºT x 7M.
- Ships may take a pilot onboard in other areas only if expressly directed to do so by an authorised pilot or the Harbour Master.
The following vessels shall be exempt from compulsory Pilotage unless otherwise directed by the Harbour Master:
- All ships of not more than 300 tons gross registered tonnage which do not have onboard dangerous substances to which the provisions of the Dangerous Substances in Harbour Areas 1987 regulations apply.
- All fishing vessels.
- All tugboats operating exclusively within the harbour area.
- All ships in transit through the harbour area which do not pass south of a line joining the most northerly point of Gluss Isle and the most northerly point of Calback Ness.
- All ships belonging to Her Majesty.
- All ships engaged in hydrographic survey work, pipelaying, trenching, inspection or similar operations.
The Secretary of State has directed that the Shetland Islands Council will refuse to grant such certificates in respect of vessels using Sullom Voe Harbour Area.
All vessels calling at the Port of Sullom Voe must comply with ‘The Merchant Shipping (pilot transfer arrangements) Regulations 1999 (S.I. 1999 No.17)’. Masters are advised that these regulations will be strictly enforced by Sullom Voe Harbour Authority. Any vessels unable to comply with the regulations should contact their agent in good time before arrival in order to arrange alternative means for embarking the pilot. Any delays and/or additional costs incurred by a vessel unable to comply with the above regulations will be strictly to the vessel’s own account. Pilot hoists are NOT to be used at Sullom Voe.
The following points are stressed:
- The rigging of the pilot ladders and the embarkation and disembarkation of Pilots thereby shall be supervised by a responsible deck officer of the ship.
- Every pilot ladder shall be secured in a position clear of any possible discharges from the ship, and so that each step rests firmly against the ship's side.
- Every pilot ladder shall be secured in a position where the Pilot can gain safe and convenient access to the ship after climbing not less than 1.5 metres and not more than nine metres.
- Whenever the distance from the water to the point of access to the ship exceeds nine metres, access to the ship must be by means of a combination of a pilot ladder and an accommodation ladder, or any equally safe and convenient means.
- Owners, Charterers and Masters of vessels should be aware that “Merchant Shipping Notice MSN 1716” specifies very clearly the conditions under which accommodation ladders are permitted to be used in the combination with a pilot ladder when the freeboard exceeds nine metres. The attention to those involved is drawn particularly to “...the lower end of the accommodation ladder rests firmly against the side of the ship within the parallel body length of the ship and within the mid-ship half section and leading aft and clear of all discharges. Masters are advised that these regulations will be strictly enforced by the Harbour Authority. Any vessels unable to comply with the above section in any particular way should contact their agent in good time before arrival in order to arrange alternative means for embarking the pilot. Any delays and/or additional costs incurred by vessels unable to comply with the above regulations will be strictly to the ship’s own account.
- Adequate lighting shall be provided at night so that the pilot ladder overside, and also the position where the Pilot boards the ship, shall be properly illuminated.
- Actual sea conditions for small craft are not always appreciated when viewed from the bridge of a large vessel. Boarding and landing of pilots is a potentially hazardous operation, which requires whole-hearted co-operation between those in control of both the tanker and pilot boat. Hard and fast rules cannot be laid down to fit every set of circumstances but the following points of guidance should be noted:
- (a) All vessels being serviced should be at the pilot station at the agreed time and not significantly early or late.
- (b) All vessels being serviced should be ready to respond to all reasonable requests from the pilot boat to ensure a safe transfer. Agreement as to how and where the transfer is to take place should be reached in ample time and the manoeuvre executed where sufficient sea room exists.
- (c) All vessels being serviced should inform the pilot boat of their intention to change their heading and when that change of heading has been completed.
- Vessels with freeboard in excess of 18 metres are instructed to confirm, or otherwise, that the gangway can be secured to the ship’s side by means of a cleat or sucker pad to prevent excessive movement of the lower end of the gangway in adverse swell conditions. If this can not be done then boarding of the Pilot may be carried out by helicopter.
A helicopter may be used to transfer pilots at Sullom Voe. Sullom Voe VTS coordinates such helicopter operations. A helicopter may be used in certain circumstances, for example:
- even though wind speeds may be within operational limits, sea conditions at the north entrance to Yell Sound can prevent boarding and landing of pilots by boat.
- when a vessel is unable to provide a satisfactory pilot ladder/accommodation ladder arrangement.
At present a Eurocopter AS332 L2 helicopter is contracted from Bond Offshore Helicopters to the Authority for purposes of pilot transfer. All such transfers shall be by winch except where a full helideck is available.
Only experienced aircrew are used and marine pilots of this Authority are all trained in this mode of transfer.
Factors affecting the use of helicopters for pilot transfer are set out below.
- The permission of the Master and/or agent as appropriate will be obtained prior to any transfer taking place using the Eurocopter AS332 L2 helicopter.
- All transfers by helicopter will be carried out strictly in accordance with the UK CAA regulations and the procedures set out in the ‘Guide to Helicopter/Ship Operations’ published by the International Chamber of Shipping.
- Any helicopter service is available only to crude carriers and combination carriers provided with suitable helicopter operating areas. It is not available to LPG carriers.
- Any helicopter service is available during day-light hours only.
- No extra charge will accrue to the vessel when pilots are boarded or landed by the Eurocopter AS332 L2 helicopter for reasons of weather and/or adverse sea conditions. The published boarding and landing fee will be applied.
- When the Eurocopter AS332 L2 helicopter helicopter is used to service a vessel with defective boarding and landing equipment a charge of £1,500 plus the published boarding and landing fee and recharges at cost will be applied.
- The Sullom Voe Harbour Authority will endeavour to advise a vessel’s agent or operator when an additional cost is likely to be incurred due to use of a helicopter for pilot transfer(s). However, all agents and operators should be aware that not withstanding the above, the Harbour Authority will, at its sole discretion, secure helicopters for the purpose of pilot transfers when they deem such service is required. The costs of such operations will be charged to the vessel(s) as appropriate.
For the convenience of ships’ masters the following extracts from the current ‘Guide to Helicopter/Ship Operations’ are reproduced by kind permission of the International Chamber of Shipping; -
The officer in charge should check all operational requirements on deck shortly before the arrival of the helicopter. General requirements are listed below, however different types of ships may require specialist checks.
- The minimum distance from the centre of the winching area to the nearest obstruction higher then 3 metres is 14.62m
- The minimum distance from the centre of the winching area to the nearest obstruction higher then 6 metres is 19.5m
- All loose objects within and adjacent to the operating area must be secured or removed.
- All aerials and standing or running rigging above or in the vicinity of the operational area should be lowered or secured.
- Fire pumps should be running to maintain sufficient water pressure on deck.
- Fire hoses should be ready (hoses should be near to but clear of and, if possible, upwind of the operating area pointing away from the helicopter).
- Foam equipment operators (at least two wearing the prescribed firemen’s outfits) should be standing by, and foam nozzles pointing away from the helicopter.
- A rescue party should be detailed.
- The man overboard rescue boat should be ready for immediate lowering. (This will not be necessary when transfer is to be carried out at a Pilot Station when the Authority’s pilot boat will be in the vicinity.
- The following items of equipment should be to hand:
- Portable fire extinguishers
- Large axe
- Red emergency signal/torch
- First aid equipment
- The deck party should be ready.
- Hook handlers should be equipped with electricians’ strong rubber gloves and rubber soled shoes to avoid electric shocks from static discharge.
- All the deck crew should be wearing bright coloured life vests and protective helmets securely fastened with a chin strap.
- The Officer of the Watch on the bridge should be consulted about the ship’s readiness.