Pilot embarkation precautionary measures

26 Mar 2020 / Great Yarmouth, United Kingdom

A set of Pilot Embarkation Precautionary Measures have been developed for the embarkation of pilots and the subsequent vessel transit... …put into effect from 1800 on 25 March 2020 by all vessels that do not have on board any suspected cases of COVID-19.

Responsibility for carrying out the Pilot Embarkation Precautionary Measures rests with the vessel’s master assisted by the shipowner and local ship agent as appropriate.


  • Prior to pilot embarkation, the pilot assigned to the vessel will establish contact with the vessel by the most appropriate means (most likely via VHF when onboard the pilot launch) and request confirmation that there are no suspected COVID-19 cases on board. This confirmation is in addition to the Maritime Declaration of Health submission that is be required by the Port Health Authority. The pilot will embark the vessel wearing suitable PPE (face mask and nitrile gloves as a minimum)
  • Immediately prior to pilot embarkation, all surfaces and equipment in the wheelhouse, including on the bridge wings, that the pilot may touch must be cleaned with a suitable cleaning solution.
  • All crew at the embarkation point must wear suitable PPE (masks and gloves as a minimum).
  • The crew member assigned to escort the pilot from the embarkation point to the wheelhouse must wear suitable PPE.
  • Where possible, the route from the embarkation point to the wheelhouse should be via the open deck, as opposed to within enclosed spaces, and be clear of ventilation unit exhausts. As far as it would not prejudice the normal operation of the vessel, non-essential crew and passengers should be kept clear of this route prior to and during pilot embarkation.
  • The bridge, where possible, should remain well ventilated via the opening of external doors or windows. If this is not practicable, owing to the design of the vessel, its systems or the prevailing conditions, all ventilation units on board the vessel should be adjusted to supply outside air only and air recirculation must not take place.
  • The bridge must be cleared of all crew not essential to the navigation of the vessel, and all crew members present must wear suitable PPE.
  • The pilot will not sign onboard documentation; the pilot’s signature being replaced by a crew member recording the pilot’s name on the documentation in lieu of the signature. The pilot will apply a corresponding procedure for the master’s signature on the pilot’s passage plan.
  • Unless necessary for the safety of the pilot (i.e. during the embarkation process), crew or vessel, the pilot and crew should remain at least 2m apart.
  • Similar precautions must be taken during disembarkation of the pilot either ashore or to the pilot launch.

If a vessel is unable to comply with any of the Pilot Embarkation Precautionary Measures, the master must advise Yarmouth Pilots on VHF Ch.12 without delay and in advance of the pilot embarkation.

Failure of vessels to comply with the Pilot Embarkation Precautionary Measures may result in pilot embarkation being delayed or cancelled.

If there is a report of a suspected case of COVID-19 onboard a vessel, the pilot embarkation will be cancelled pending the receipt of specific guidance from the Port Health Authority.

Furthermore, masters of vessels are advised that if the pilot assigned to the vessel reports any symptoms of COVID-19 prior to embarkation, reasonable endeavours will be made to assign a replacement pilot in time for the vessel’s planned transit. However, depending upon the prevailing demand for pilots, this may not be not be possible, in which case, the booking will be cancelled, and the local agent required to resubmit the booking for a later time.

(For further details and updates, as well as information about operations in the United Kingdom, contact GAC UK at [email protected])

Source: Great Yarmouth Port Company Limited Harbour Master Notice to Mariners No.06 2020 dated 25 March 2020

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