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More recruits to keep river trade flowing

From left: Joshua Tanton, Matthew Lloyd, Peter Smith, Iain Lovell

Recruitment of experienced master mariners to become specialist Thames navigational pilots is helping the Port of London Authority keep river trade flowing.

On Monday (8 February) four trainee pilots joined the PLA to start an intensive, six-month course, with more set to follow in their footsteps this summer.

The quartet of new starters are Matthew Lloyd (from Poulton le Fylde, Lancashire), Iain Lovell (from Merstham, Surrey), Peter Smith (from Brightlingsea, Essex) and Joshua Tanton (from Louth in Lincolnshire).

They join the PLA’s 101-strong team of pilots, who guide vessels safely up and down the estuary. Their job involves boarding and disembarking, often using challenging ladder, in all weathers, at all times of day and night.

In 2020 the team maintained a 99.5 per cent service level, playing a key role in maintaining the uninterrupted delivery of vital food, fuel and medicines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bob Baker, PLA chief harbour master, said: “Piloting vessels safely in and out of port is one of those jobs few people have heard of, but which is critical for economic prosperity.

“Our pilots have to know every inch of the estuary like the back of their hand, to be able to make sure that goods can continue to arrive safely, day in, day out, whatever the weather.

“Expanding our pool of available talent means we will be able to maintain a resilient service for our customers and will also help expand the volume of freight delivered to this country by river.”

London is one of the country’s busiest ports by tonnage of goods handled.

Find out more about pilot recruitment