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Daily Archives: 18. May 2012 − News & Stories


Pilo­ta­ge in Spits­ber­gen

The cur­rent plans of the Nor­we­gi­an government to intro­du­ce com­pul­so­ry pilo­ta­ge in Spits­ber­gen in a simi­lar way as in Nor­way meets cri­ti­zism and worries tho­se con­cer­ned. Lea­ding staff mem­bers of the respon­si­ble Nor­we­gi­an coas­tal aut­ho­ri­ty (Kyst­ver­ket) have now expres­sed that they see that the cur­rent pro­po­sal needs to be adjus­ted to the dif­fe­rent con­di­ti­ons in Spits­ber­gen.

Small ships with pas­sen­ger num­bers less or even far less than 100, that ope­ra­te tours around Spits­ber­gen that can last up to more than 2 weeks, would most­ly be for­ced to ter­mi­na­te their sai­lings in Spits­ber­gen immedia­te­ly if com­pul­so­ry pilo­ta­ge comes into for­ce as announ­ced, invol­ving cos­ts of several hund­red Euro per hour. All ves­sels lon­ger than 70 metres and all pas­sen­ger ves­sels lon­ger than 24 metres are con­cer­ned.

Theo­re­ti­cal­ly, expe­ri­en­ced nau­ti­cal offi­cers can get fair­way cer­ti­fi­ca­tes, which means that they do not need to have a pilot on board. Given the cur­rent legis­la­ti­ve pro­po­sal, this will howe­ver in prac­ti­ce be impos­si­ble for most. To men­ti­on only one examp­le of the beau­ro­cra­tic obsta­cles: The navi­ga­tor needs to have sai­led the rele­vant pas­sa­ge at least 6 times in every direc­tion. This may make sen­se for the Nor­we­gi­an coast­li­ne with its traf­fic pat­terns that are most­ly shut­tle traf­fic. In Spits­ber­gen, most ships cir­cum­na­vi­ga­te the main island or the who­le archi­pe­la­go. As this is tra­di­tio­nal­ly almost always done in a clock­wi­se direc­tion, the­re are Cap­tains who have done this count­less times – but only in one direc­tion, so for­mal­ly they don’t qua­li­fy for a fair­way cer­ti­fi­ca­te.

Due to this and simi­lar regu­la­ti­ons, an esti­ma­ted near 80 % of even the most expe­ri­en­ced Cap­tains will not be able to obtain fair­way cer­ti­fi­ca­tes. If the offi­cial pilot will be able to con­tri­bu­te with any know­ledge that such Cap­tains and offi­cers do not have is yet ano­t­her ques­ti­on.

Pilo­ta­ge is announ­ced to come into for­ce step­wi­se until 2014. A decisi­on is due in June.

MS Stock­holm in drift ice at the north coast of Spits­ber­gen. The ship and her Cap­tain are local mari­ti­me vete­rans.

MS Stockholm near Verlegenhuken

Source: NRK

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