By A Staff Reporter
LONDON October 21: HMM Stockholm is the largest containership in the world, 400 metres long, 61.5 metres wide and 82.9 metres from the keel to the top of the mast, which can carry 24,000 containers. The largest container ship was piloted into London Gateway port on 11th October 2020 by Captain P.S.K.Tampi.
HMM Stockholm, owned by Hyundai Merchant Marine of South Korea, was on its maiden voyage from the Far East to Europe laden with everything you buy from supermarkets which include refrigerated fruits, meat and all that you order online.
Speaking to this website PSK Tampi explained the process of piloting a ship into London Gateway Port.
“A Marine Pilot boards a ship off the UK coast by means of a Pilot Cutter from Harwich in Essex, takes over the navigation or con and guides her 54 nautical miles safely up the River Thames to London Gateway Port in Essex. When the ship leaves London Gateway Port outbound, she will also be navigated or guided till the outer port limits of the Thames Estuary. This is called Pilotage and is necessary because of the shallow depths and narrow channels which require many years of local knowledge and shiphandling skills to successfully transit ”, Captain Tampi said.
Pilotage is a very challenging profession because of the risks involved and the sheer size of the vessels. The challenge is the most interesting aspect of this profession.
The Port of London, based in Gravesend, Kent, employ and train the Marine Pilots. Around 13,000 ships are piloted every year on the Thames bringing in food, raw and manufactured goods, construction materials, diesel, petrol and more.
Last year the Queen had invited Captain Parameswaran Sudarshan Kumar Tampi to her annual Garden Party to represent the Port of London Authority on the basis of his long service as a Marine Pilot which also includes acting as Duty Port Controller.
Captain Tampi joined the Port of London as a Marine Pilot in 1998 and worked his way up to a Class 1 Pilot and then a Berthing Pilot. Later the Berthing Pilot service was transformed into a Haven Pilot Service which he is now a part of.
A Marine Pilot’s job involves Piloting ships from the outer extremities of the Thames Estuary (near Harwich/Felixstowe, Essex in the North to Ramsgate, Kent in the South) to the seventy odd berths along the Thames stretching from Southend in Essex to Tower Bridge and Moorings. The distance involved can be upto 90 nautical miles.
The largest ships that come into the Thames are more than 400 metres long, 60 metres wide and upto 16 metres deep. These are what is called Ultra Large Container Ships or ULCS. The Haven Pilot Service is a specialised group of Pilots who pilot the largest ships (ULCS) that come into the Thames.
The Port of London controls about 90 miles of the River Thames and is the reason why it is recognised as a strategic asset of the country, contributing hugely towards the economy, jobs and ensures that all essential commodities are delivered to the population as well as exporting products in a timely manner.
Captain Tampi also works as a Duty Port Controller at London Vessel Traffic Service located at Gravesend in Kent. There is always a Class 1 Pilot in charge of the London Vessel Traffic service 24-7-365. He is essentially acting as the Harbour Master with delegated powers and ensures smooth running of the Port.
Captain Tampi came to the UK (Belfast) to do his Master Mariner’s Certificate of Competency or commonly known a Captain’s Licence in 1987. He lived in Dublin till 1997 and then shifted to Gravesend, Kent to take up a job as a Nautical Lecturer at the North West Kent College. He joined the Port of London in 1998. Since 2000 he & his family have been living in Strood (Rochester), Kent.
Captain Tampi is from Trivandrum in Kerala. Both his parents were from Trivandrum. His mother belonged to the erstwhile Royal Family of Travancore, Arumana and Karimpali Ammaveedu. His Father was from the Elankom family originally from Neyoor.
Diwan Nannu Pillai of Travancore was his father’s great grandfather who moved to Vellayambalam and the family is now settled there.
Captain Tampi is married to Anita Puliyankalath who works as a Business Administrator with the Ministry of Justice. She is originally from Palaghat but has been brought up and educated in Chennai.
The couple have one son, Kiran Tampi who has done his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from Bath University .
Captain Tampi studied in Bishop’s High School in Pune & later did his Indian School Certificate from Hutchings High School, Pune in 1975. He topped his Class for the year and was presented with a Shield for the achievement.
After completing his First Year BSc at Fergusson College, Pune he joined IIT Mumbai in 1977 but left to pursue a career at sea , joining the Merchant navy on 13th September 1977. During his training period he was the Starboard Cadet Captain and received an award for this. Captain Tampi spent 20 years in the Merchant Navy.
Captain Tampi served five years as Master (Captain) trading worldwide on ships upto 300 metres in length. His company gave him an excellent reference which assisted in him being successful in joining the Port of London as a Marine Pilot.