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More trainee pilots recruited to support river trade growth

More experienced mariners have been recruited by the Port of London Authority (PLA) to train as specialist navigational pilots, to help grow trade on the tidal Thames.

On Monday (7 June), a quartet of new appointees embarked on an intensive, six-month course:

  • Antoine Ó Coisdealbha, grew up surrounded by the sea on the island of Inis Oirr in Ireland. He has previously worked for Arklow Shipping, Stena Line and Disney Cruises.
  • Joe Palmer, who grew up in Rugby, Warwickshire, has sailed the world’s oceans for over a decade, including three years’ operating bulk carriers in the Far East.
  • Philip Selby, from Buckhurst Hill in Essex, has spent the past 13 years working around the UK coast for Tarmac Marine, most recently as master on the City Of Westminster.
  • Matthew Staley, based in the west Midlands, who joins the PLA as an experienced chief officer on drilling units offshore.

They follow four similar recruits, appointed in February, and join a team of over 100 PLA pilots, guiding visiting vessels safely up and down the estuary.

The team’s work involves boarding and disembarking ships in mid-stream, in all weathers and at all times of day, and night and demands a detailed understanding of the river’s unique characteristics.

Dave Newbury the PLA’s pilotage manager said: “These latest recruits are essential to making sure we maintain a resilient service for our customers long into the future.”

So far in 2021, the team has delivered a 99.9 per cent service record to customers.

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