Briefing page for ships Masters.
Marine Pilot Service by Helicopter
This document serves as a guide to assist the Master of a vessel receiving a Marine Pilot by an Acher Aviation crewed helicopter. This document should be used as a supplement to the contents of the International Chamber of Shipping ‘Guide to Helicopter/Ship Operations’ and the International Marine Pilot’s Association (IMPA) ‘Shipmaster’s Guide to Pilot Transfer by Helicopter’.
This document in no way replaces or supersedes the contents of the above-mentioned documents. It serves to assist the Master in gaining an understanding to the procedures executed by Acher Aviation as operators of Marine Pilot transfers by helicopter.
1. Safety Philosophy
No Marine Pilot Service transfer or attempt to complete a transfer will take place unless there is consensus reached on the safe execution of the task at hand.
Should the Master of the vessel receiving the Marine Pilot feel that safety is compromised or may be compromised; he must call for the transfer to be cancelled or postponed until such time as he/she is happy that the safety of his vessel and crew is not at risk.
On board the helicopter, prior to and during the transfer process, all crewmembers inclusive of the Marine Pilot will be in agreement as to the manner in which the task will be executed. The Marine Pilot is part of this “closed loop” decision-making process.
The ‘closed loop’ decision-making process is an Acher Aviation flight crew communication system. It prescribes that the most conservative safety attitude will always prevail on board the helicopter.
2. Limits of Authority
The limits of authority are listed to provide an understanding as to how Acher Aviation will act when providing any service to shipping.
The Master of the vessel being serviced is responsible for the overall safety of the vessel and may prevent, terminate or curtail any operations at any time. Any interruption of service by the Master or his designate requires that the helicopter move clear of the ship until such time as the approval to continue is received.
The safety of the helicopter and its occupants remains the responsibility of the Helicopter Commander. The helicopter commander will assess each transfer with the flight crew and make the necessary safety judgements. If the task can be safely undertaken, the helicopter commander will continue unless stopped by the vessel master or marine pilot or a member of the helicopter crew.
The Marine Pilot is responsible for the final control of transfer operations and may continue or refuse to undertake operation at any time. No Ship landing or hoist may be made without the approval of the Marine Pilot. Requests to manoeuvre the Ship shall be made only by the Marine Pilot, unless he agrees or requests that the Helicopter Pilot/Commander do this.
It is understood that on these types of operations, communications by radio may not always be satisfactory or even possible sometimes. The helicopter crew will also respond to hand signals. In the absence of any communication the helicopter crew will continue the operation unless they deem it to be unsafe.
Initial communication must take place between the vessel and the relevant Port Control/Authority or dispatch office. The helicopter crew will obtain information concerning the request for service and the relevant details from the dispatcher at Port Control.
Once the helicopter is airborne, the helicopter will establish contact with the vessel on the designated helicopter/ship channel. The following information will be requested from the vessel:
- Is the vessel ready to receive the Marine Pilot by helicopter?
- Is there a designated landing or hoist area? If a designated area is available, permission to use the area. If hoisting, a request for personnel to be available to assist the Marine Pilot.
- To flash an Aldis lamp for location. (If night time).
- To switch on all deck lights. (If night time).
- The vessel may be asked to establish a course for minimum roll. The Helicopter Pilot may request a particular course. This will be done with the approval of the Marine Pilot. In the absence of a marine pilot on board, the helicopter commander may independently make this request.
It is understood that at certain boarding/disembarking areas and under certain circumstances the master may not be able to comply with requests made by the helicopter crew or marine pilot. If this situation prevails, the helicopter crew will assess the situation on arrival at the vessel.
4. Communication Failure.
In the event of radio communication failure or for language reasons, a lack of understanding exists between the helicopter crew and the Master of the vessel; the helicopter crew will make the decision as to whether or not to continue the transfer.
If the decision is to continue the operation, the crew will establish the safest possible area to carry out the operation. Any indication from the bridge or crew on deck that the service should stop will result in the helicopter standing off.
5. Selection of operating area.
The area selected will be selected based on the following criteria:
- Demarcated hoist/landing area.
- Relative wind direction and strength.
- Prevailing sea state.
- Behaviour of the vessel in terms of pitch, roll and heave.
In the absence of a demarcated area the helicopter crew will find the safest possible area to operate. This will normally be a position offering maximum clearance between the helicopter and any part of the vessels super structure. Dependent on the relative wind this may be with the helicopter facing forward along the port side (or aft along the starboard side) of the vessel with the objective of placing the pilot just inboard of the rail. Other positions on the vessel may be selected dependent on the type of vessel and the prevailing conditions.
Should the Master not want the hoist operation to be conducted in a particular area he must indicate this to the helicopter crew.
6. Safety on Deck.
The helicopter crew will assume that the vessel master has, to the best of his ability, made the necessary deck arrangements in accordance with the requirements specified in the International Chamber of Shipping guide to helicopter/Ship operations.
The vessel master will instruct all crew to remain clear of the helicopter in the event of the helicopter landing on deck. Any crewmember required to approach the helicopter must only do so if approved to do so by one of the helicopter crew.
During hoisting operations one or two deck crewmembers are requested to standby to assist the Marine Pilot landing or departing the deck of the vessel.
Deck crews must ensure that no loose objects such as packets, strapping, packing boards are left near the operating area. Loose objects can cause damage or injury as a result of the rotor downwash.
7. Emergency Response.
In the event of the helicopter either ditching into the sea, or an accident occurring on the deck of the vessel, the Master of the vessel must immediately sound the alarm and coordinate the appropriate emergency measures.
If the helicopter ditches in the sea, the Master must also notify the local Port Control immediately who will initiate the necessary Emergency Response Program. The vessel should attempt to recover the helicopter occupants from the water if this is possible.
8. Flight Watch.
If the boarding/disembarking point for the pilot, or service being provided, is some distance from the coast, the helicopter commander may request that the vessel maintain a ‘listening radio watch’ on the designated frequency. This is because the helicopter has no other communication with anybody. The helicopter crew do expect under these circumstances, that the vessel master will respond to any helicopter emergency and relay any distress message back to the port authority so that emergency procedures will be put into effect.
This document relates to procedures used by Acher Aviation. It is only relevant to helicopter services provided by Acher Aviation.
This document may not be copied, changed, modified or used by any other person or organisation without the express written authority of Acher Aviation.