New Providence, Bahamas – Marine pilots around the globe have for decades provided indispensable services to ships in the maritime industry and marine pilot services have been offered in ports around The Bahamas since the 1900s. Since 2015 Independent Maritime Services (IMS), from its base of operations on Grand Bahama Island, has provided Marine Pilotage services in addition to a slew of other maritime industry services from logistics to launch and port services to guiding vessels in Harbour Island and Egg Island Eleuthera, Exuma, Conception Island, Long Island, San Salvador as well as Bimini/ Ocean Cay.
Most recently, IMS Bahamas’ core team of highly trained and qualified Marine Pilots have been licensed by the Ministry of Transport and the Port Department to Pilot vessels in the Greater Bimini Area. Providing first-hand expert advice on-vessel maneuvering in and out of the Ports in the Greater Bimini Area.
“Marine Pilots services are of the utmost importance as it pertains to maritime safety and the economic development of a nation explained Capt. Kendall Williamson IMS President, “over 90% of global trade is conducted by sea. In addition to ensuring the safe navigation of our waters, the very nature of our work is to serve the Bahamian public, the Government of the Bahamas and the general shipping community in promoting sustained economic development,” he explained.
“The COVID 19 pandemic is a clear example of how important the role of Marine Pilot plays in the maritime industry. Even as many businesses have been ordered closed, ships are still being allowed to transport goods for our country’s survival.”
Additionally, the company and its directors have taken on critical advocacy work meant to facilitate the continued growth of the sector and open doors for future generations of qualified maritime industry professionals.
In recent years, industry professionals have noted the growing popularity of smaller family island destinations, a reality which has increased the need for more fully licensed marine pilots to operate “As a maritime country, we have the responsibility to ensure that the industry which allows foreign vessels to traverse Bahamian waters is properly regulated” noted Capt. Williamson.
“Despite the growth, we have seen over the years, the local maritime industry remains untouched and the only way to move forward is to create an environment that is more structured and the creation of a set of minimum standards which provides a firm foundation upon which the industry can be built.”
Currently, as many as six (6) ports around the country operate without the inclusion and oversight of Marine Pilots. “For years now, our organization has been calling for the creation of a set of minimum standards to which young maritime professionals can aspire,” he noted. Based on the current growth patterns, the company estimates that a minimum of twenty (20) new marine pilots will be required to fill positions, particularly in the family islands.
As the local industry continues to develop, IMS Directors say greater enforcement of protocols already enshrined in law is another important strategy and the modernization of some aspects of our maritime laws. “There definitely needs to be greater across-the-board enforcement” noted Capt. Williamson. “Doing so not only gives credence to the work of marine pilots but offers a greater sense of legitimacy to the industry which, in turn, attracts even more qualified entrants into the profession.”
IMS Directors are also very grateful to the Government of The Bahamas, especially Minister of Transport, Minister Renwood Wells and the Acting Port Controller Commander Berne Wright for approving the request to license several Bahamian Marine Pilots to service vessels in the Bimini area. This is historic and groundbreaking for the Bahamas maritime industry. Outside of New Providence, Inagua and Grand Bahama, Marine Pilots have been designated to another island, the Greater Bimini area.
This is a clear example of the government moving in the right direction of empowering the Bahamian people in the maritime industry.