Keep clear of big ships

21 October 2010

Captain Carl Kavina from Flinders Ports knows how to pilot giant ships down relatively narrow channels – he helped bring the biggest ocean liner in the world, the Queen Mary II, to dock in Outer Harbor.

big ships“An enormous amount of preparation goes into making sure that these giant ships can safely navigate the channel; the unknown part is the small vessels that hang around the deep harbor,” Captain Kavina said. “The average large ship is around 300 metres long and it needs to navigate a 130 metre wide channel – there is little room for error when piloting it in,” he said. “The bridge is 40 metres above the water, so the ship’s pilot is sitting at the equivalent height of a 12 storey building.

“The view of the water is very different from that height and boats on the water are tiny from where the pilot and master are on the ship. “The pilot’s view from the bridge of a large ship can often be obstructed by items such as containers on the ship and we lose sight of boats once they pass the bow – this makes us very nervous because we don’t know if we’re going to hit a boat.

A ship can’t change course because it would run aground in the channel and the consequences would be severe.
There have been an increase in near misses in recent years. If near misses continue to happen at this rate, it will eventually result in an incident between a ship and boat.

“My advice to keep safe around deep shipping channels is to be aware that navigational aids that mark the deep water are essential for the safety of the ship,” said Carl Kavina. “The primary purpose of these markers is to keep the deep channel clear for these enormous ships to navigate – so be very careful not to obstruct any ships if you’re using those markers for other purposes.

“Small boats must keep clear of shipping channels.”