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Research Project

Technology Implications for Marine Pilotage

Explore the impacts of technology on the safe and efficient delivery of marine pilotage services.

In this project, you’ll learn about:

  • The technological advances in ship navigation over the past 40 years
  • How technology supports the delivery of pilotage services in countries around the world
  • Which technologies have the greatest potential to improve ship position/movement, environment assessment, ship control, and risk assessment/management.
  • Latest advances in Shore-based Pilotage (SBP) and Marine Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS)

Project Summary

This research provided a scan of technology applicable to the practice of marine pilotage, with the objective of identifying emerging or non-standard technologies that may be available to enhance the effectiveness (safety) and efficiency of pilotage in Canadian waters. Background research provides an overview of the history and practical functions of marine pilotage; the study traces the evolution of pilotage in Canada and highlights the significant advances in navigational technology that have occurred over the last 50 years.

Canadian practice is related to the foreign pilotage regimes of Australia, the United States, Chile, Denmark and Norway. A functional concept of pilotage was developed as a framework for the detailed research, focused on technologies addressing the aspects of (1) position/movement; (2) environment; (3) ship control; and (4) risk assessment/management. A related set of comparison criteria were developed, through which 54 discrete baseline, enhancing and emerging technologies were assessed to identify what technologies may have the greatest potential for improving pilotage.

Clear Seas partnered with Greenwood Maritime Services to conduct this research.

Key Takeaways

  • Canada’s four Pilotage Authorities already employ most commonly available technologies and are as advanced as many international comparatives.
  • Technology may hold solutions for current pilotage concerns such as safer pilot transfers, increased Vessel Traffic Services situational awareness and management, advanced real-time data availability to pilots, local monitoring to avoid conflicts with marine mammals, and improved coastal connectivity with internet-based sources of information.
  • Shore-based Pilotage (SBP) and Marine Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS) are emerging technology areas where Finland, Denmark and Japan appear to be taking a leading role. Many concerns remain with identified gaps in the feasibility and benefits.

Project Outputs

From Paper Charts to ECDIS: A Journey through the Evolution of Marine Navigation

The officer of the watch on the bridge of a modern cargo ship or cruise liner is responsible for the safe navigation of these giants of the sea. They rely on an array of navigational technology to safely find their way and avoid collisions with other ships or natural obstacles. But how has navigational technology advanced in the past 50 years?

In this article we explore some of key advances since the days of paper charts and sextants that are keeping modern ships safe from catastrophic accidents.

Read the article: From Paper Charts to ECDIS: A Journey Through the Evolution of Marine Navigation

Research Team

RAdm Nigel Greenwood, RCN (Ret’d), FRIN, FNI, holds a BSc in Physics and Oceanography, as well as an MA in International Studies. He is a naval veteran and qualified master mariner, who maintains seagoing currency in seasonal employment as an ice navigator in the Canadian Arctic, and as a local small-craft sailor. His consultancy, Greenwood Maritime Solutions Ltd., specializes in Threat and Risk Assessments, Operations Research and Maritime Operational Studies. Greenwood Maritime Solutions has previously conducted operational studies and assessments for the Pacific Pilotage Authority, the Canadian Hydrographic Service, Transport Canada, Defence Research and Development Canada, the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (Highways Branch), and the Canada Port Authorities of Prince Rupert and Vancouver.

Captain Kevin Obermeyer, MM, BComm, MNI, combines a background of naval and commercial seafaring with advanced responsibilities in port and coastal pilotage management. He served as assistant Harbour Master for the Port of Prince Rupert in 1992, and then Harbour Master for the Port of Nanaimo from 1995 until 1999, when he joined the Pacific Pilotage Authority. He was CEO of PPA for 17 years before retiring in 2022.

Captain David (Duke) Snider, CCG (Ret’d), FNI, FRGS, is an internationally recognized ice navigator and the founder of Martech Polar Consultants Ltd. A past-President of the Nautical Institute, he was instrumental in establishing international standards of Ice Navigation training and certification, and is the author of the Nautical Institute textbook Polar Ship Operations (2nd ed., 2018). He is a frequent advisor to Transport Canada on issues of Arctic safety and navigation.

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