During the last ten years the steady growth in trade has generated many headlines and the corresponding increase in size of the new generation of containerships has been particularly well documented. The breathless press releases of the latest mega containership do however hide a growing problem for pilots in handling such vessels.
These ships are designed to be most efficient for the inter port ocean passages where the hull form results in high efficiency with respect to speed in relation to fuel consumption, but once they enter port approaches, these ships are operating in an environment for which they were never designed.
As containerships have grown, pilots have had to adapt their ship handling techniques. Interestingly, the remarkably good safety record achieved by the pilots who handle these megastructures has resulted in a general lack of appreciation as to how piloting these ships is undertaken close to the limits of operational parameters…
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