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Minister climbs the ladder to mark Maritime Safety Week

The shipping minister kicked off Maritime Safety Week (5-9 July), by climbing a ladder, used by the Port of London Authority (PLA) to train employees who board commercial vessels, in all weather, to ensure they have a safe passage up and down the Thames estuary.

Robert Courts MP was in Gravesend, Kent, to meet some of the PLA’s newest pilot trainees, recruited to ensure it can continue to provide a high level of service to customers, along with apprentices from a range of disciplines, and trainees funded by the Government’s Kickstarter programme.

The minister commented: “At the start of Maritime Safety Week, it was great to meet the pilots and other PLA staff, who have played such a vital role in keeping the river open for trade throughout the pandemic.

“Thanks to them and their counterparts at ports around the country, ever since COVID-19 first hit, supermarkets shelves have been regularly replenished, and other vital commodities, such as fuel and medical supplies, have not run short.

“Learning about the physical rigours pilots boarding and disembarking from ships have to endure, come rain or shine, was a real eye-opener.

“It was reassuring to see the high priority the PLA gives to the safety of its staff, on the water and on land."

Robin Mortimer, chief executive of the PLA, said: “The safety of our employees and all river users is fundamental for us. It’s the non-negotiable bedrock of how we operate.

“Maritime Safety Week is a vital annual reminder of why preventing even small mishaps is so important.”

So far in 2021, the PLA’s pilotage team has delivered a 99.6 per cent service record to customers.

Recruitment of more PLA pilots is also in progress.