Ports all around the world are known for being hubs of activity. From tourist vessels to oil tankers, from cargo ships to destroyers – the comings and goings in any port are often essential elements in a country’s development and prosperity. At the heart of all of that, is the work of the maritime pilot. Maritime pilots are expert ship handlers who possess in-depth knowledge of local waterways
With all the hustle and bustle of a working port, the risk of accidents is high. And depending on the type of vessel coming in such incidents could cause extreme damage and such events might have a very hard impact on the environment, the economy, and the life of the port and the surrounding areas.
Manoeuvring in confined ports demands great nautical skill. Merchant vessels with ever larger dimensions have to be safely guided through narrow waterways, often in heavy traffic. The pilot acts as the partner of the captain coping with this demanding role, which requires long experience as well as specific knowledge of the vessel and the estuary.
Within a very short period of the time our maritime pilots have to acquaint themselves with the characteristics and manoeuvring of an unfamiliar vessel, while taking weather conditions, currents and tides into account, before setting course and giving instructions to sail.
The work of our maritime pilots is essentially to ensure a ship’s safe entrance and a safe exit from the Grand Harbour or the Marsaxlokk port. The safety of a ship manoeuvring in the port means the safety of all those who live and work around the same port.
When vessels call at Maltese ports, pilotage is compulsory for vessels of 500 GT and over, except in cases where ships are legally exempt from pilotage. All vessels approaching Valletta Harbour are asked to proceed to the Fairway Buoy – a safe-water marker situated precisely one mile of the breakwater. Our pilots board vessels at the Pilot Stations located outside Valletta and Marsaxlokk. In bad weather, boarding may be restricted to the harbour entrance.
The pilotage service offered by the Malta Maritime Pilots Cooperative Limited is available on a 24-hour basis.