The Malta Maritime Pilots today officially inaugurated the new Pilot Boat OHIO. This 40-foot pilot boat is the co-operative’s seventh pilot vessel and will help the maritime pilots strengthen its excellent service to Malta’s ports. Pilot Boat OHIO cost €600,000 and its assembling and finishing were done locally.

Addressing a press conference at Malta Freeport, the President of the Malta Maritime Pilot Co-operative, Chief Pilot Jesmond Mifsud said that the future success of our ports is in ongoing investment and continuous upgrades considering the fierce competition coming from rival ports and the constantly changing requirements of the maritime industry. Since its inception in 2003, the co-operative maintained a 100% efficiency track record, with the Pilot Boat service never stopping or failing. This was the result of huge investment made by the co-operative along the years. In 2013 alone, the co-operative offered more than 8,000 pilotage services in the Maltese Ports.

Capt. Mifsud said that in the past ten years container ships have almost doubled in carrying capacity from 9,000 teu (twenty-foot equivalent unit) to the ultra-large containerships carrying over 16,000 teu. These containerships, amongst the largest in the world, are now handled in Maltese ports on a regular, weekly basis.

“We should all be proud of this success story, keeping in mind Malta’s limited size and resources. There are many foreign competitive ports in larger countries that envy this success.”

The Malta Maritime Pilots Co-operative today also inaugurated a new Pilot Boat station that includes a Pilot Boat jetty as well as adjacent pilot and boat crew premises. Although common in other ports, this is a first for Malta. Pilots and crews now have suitable premises where to rest and refresh themselves when on standby to provide their service. Furthermore, visiting masters from ships at Marsaxlokk can call on the pilots for discussions that might be needed. This will result in a more efficient pilot boat service.

“In today’s aggressive competitive port industry, each stakeholder needs to provide an optimum link that is a vital part of the value chain we are there to provide. If there is one weak link, visiting ships will just leave and opt for another port.”

The Malta Maritime Pilots Co-operative is also investing in further upgrades of the Maritime Pilots Research Centre. During this summer a Port Safety Study will be held under the direction and control of the Dutch experts MARIN and Transport Malta.

Capt. Mifsud said that the co-operative is also investing in human resources and has increased the intake of new younger Master Mariners as Junior Pilots to ensure that there is a smooth transition of training, experience and knowledge between generations of pilots. This will ensure seemless continuity of excellent service.

Chief Pilot Mifsud concluded that all this success is due to the co-operation between all parties involved: Transport Malta, Malta Freeport, the Malta Maritime Pilots Co-operative, Tug Malta, VGT, VISET and ship agents. Capt. Mifsud thanked Minister Joe Mizzi who was always available to personally discuss any difficulties or concerns that the pilots, or the port industry, might encounter.