Port of London Authority looking to expand its team of marine pilots


PLAThe Port of London Authority (PLA) is recruiting 12 new pilots this year to respond to increased traffic on the Thames.

The PLA is looking for candidates with a Class 1 Unlimited Certificate of Competency.  Other suitably qualified candidate who can demonstrate experience relative to marine pilotage will also be considered.

The candidates will typically undertake a 28-week training course consisting of training on the PLA’s ship bridge simulator and tug simulator, training in Vessel Traffic Services and onboard tugs and ships, with regular reviews, assessments and oral exams.  This will qualify them as a Class 4 pilot able to handle smaller vessels and they will have the opportunity to work up to being an unrestricted pilot, able to handle some of the largest ships in the world.

The PLA recruitment drive is also in response to an anticipation of growth in traffic resulting from significant investments taking place at the port’s terminals.  The Thames welcomes a wide variety of ships from dredgers to warships and tankers to superyachts.  And now the Thames is also able to welcome the world’s largest 400m long container ships, which requires specialised training.

Robin Mortimer, PLA chief executive said: “The Port of London grew to 45 million tonnes in 2015 and is the UK’s busiest inland waterway. We are forecasting that over the next two decades the Port of London will become the largest it’s ever been and we are adding to the team to help bring a variety of ships, including the largest in the world, safely on to the Thames.”

Key investments on the Thames include those at DP World London Gateway and the Port of Tilbury. London Gateway is due to open its third berth in Q4 2016, adding capacity to handle an extra 600,000 containers per annum, while the Forth Ports recently announced plans for a £100m investment at the Port of Tilbury and are currently building a state-of-the art temperature-controlled distribution centre in the port and London Distribution Park adjacent to the port.

Peter Steen, director of marine operations said: “We are seeing a general increase in terminal traffic including containers, trailers, bulks like aggregates and cement, and oil products.  And Thames terminals are investing in new infrastructure that is expected increase their throughput even more.  The new pilots will help us handle the increase in vessels visiting the Thames.

“This is an excellent opportunity for a career that offers challenges and a diversity of marine activities in a growing business.”

In September, the PLA launched the findings of an economic report as part of the Thames Vision, which found the port was providing over 44,000 jobs and bringing £4bn GVA to the UK economy.

The Vision, a 20-year plan for the river, is forecasting an increase in throughput from its existing 45.4million tonnes to 60 million tonnes of cargo each year, which will mean this year’s recruitment, is only start of the PLA pilotage team recruitment drive.