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Pilotage Day, with great pride


Bruno Tavares – Vice President of São Paulo Pilotage

Many people from Santos, when they are on the beachfront, are already used to the image of ships calmly entering or leaving our navigation channel, and have even learned to differentiate the red speedboat that accompanies them. In the same way, a large part of the region's residents see the photos and images of television articles that show the pilot climbing a rope ladder, called the practical one or the breastbreaker, but few know that the passage from the boat to the ship is a big risk.

What is generally unknown is that this movement is just the beginning of a maneuver, access to the ship. The reality is much broader. The pilot is not just the one who is on the boat to board or disembark the ship, his role begins when he climbs the side ladder and passes to the ship's cockpit, advising the captain to guide the vessel precisely in the most dangerous stretch of a trip : the channel of a port, in a navigation in restricted waters, when any wrong or delayed decision can cause a serious accident.

For this work, a large system is activated with high-tech equipment and real-time information, on land and at sea, to assist the pilot. This highly specialized professional knows in depth the winding and narrow places, the sandbanks, the rocks, the sea currents, the height of the waves, the intensity of the winds and all the factors that go into this complex gear. The Pilot is also knowledgeable in the operation of all the equipment he finds on board.

In all these years of work, I and all the pilots on the team felt fulfilled for contributing to our country and our region, in this essential activity for the Port of Santos. 

Therefore, June 27th is a date to celebrate with great pride. Pilotage Day was made official by Decree Law 3294 of 2016, by the Municipality of Santos. This time, the date marks 89 years, but this story is much older.  Records from other centuries show that pilots began to work when the first vessels arrived at the Port of Santos.

Time has passed, but more and more the pilot must be an extremely qualified person, who can maneuver any ship in any weather condition. A ship cannot fail to be maneuvered, unless the weather conditions do not allow it. This is how, during the pandemic and even World War II, Pilotage remained active, ensuring the entry and exit of ships in ports and, thus, international trade and cabotage. 

Today, Pilotage in São Paulo has a Center for Coordination, Communications and Traffic Operations (C3OT) with state-of-the-art technology and, more importantly, qualified and experienced operators, to safely carry out embarking and disembarking maneuvers on ships, collaborating for the preservation of of the vessel, cargo, crew, people and the environment in the immediate vicinity of the port facilities. Efficiency and pioneering spirit have been the hallmarks of São Paulo Pilotage, the first in the Americas to obtain the ISO 9000 Certificate, for the excellence of the services provided, and the first to implement VGP, the Via Green Institute's Environmental Management Program, contributing to the combating climate change, with excellent results and increasing savings in water, energy and CO2 emissions.

Our pilotage is of great significance, not only for its efficiency and agility, but for what it represents for the maritime sector and for the Baixada Santista region, in addition to international respect.

The pilot's point of view is always one of great respect for the community, either through partnerships in the educational area to expand the training of Porto workers, or with donations to institutions and investments to guarantee the excellence of the work. We represent the safety bridge to maintain navigability in the channel, mitigating risks and collaborating for the development of the country, the port and the cities that surround it.

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