Jean-Philippe Salducci, Captain, pilot and Union President of the Marseille and Gulf of Fos pilots, oversaw the creation of a manoeuvre simulator for La Ciotat Shipyards and its future 4300t lift. The Marseille-Fos pilot teams will in fact be responsible for securing and optimising the entry of yachts and mega-yachts onto the quay of the future platform.
Stimulating interview with Jean-Philippe Salducci.
LCS: What is the mission of the pilotage service?
Our mission is to guide ship captains in their port manoeuvres, whether entering or leaving the port. We also have a mission to secure and safeguard human life at sea, the port infrastructures and their environment, and the vessel and its crew, whatever the weather! It is a public service mission which operates without State resources, the revenue being generated by the vessels the pilots serve.
Our job requires composure, expertise and very good interpersonal skills to gain the confidence of the captains. The pilots are all captains and have sailed for at least 10 years in order to pass a very selective process (only 320 pilots in France and the Overseas Territories). We are authorised to work on the sites of Fos, Marseille, La Ciotat, Nice, Cannes and Villefranche.
LCS: What types of mission do you work on at La Ciotat?
For the La Ciotat Shipyards site, as with all other sites, there is a specific pilotage obligation threshold. It is set at 70m on La Ciotat, which means that vessels longer than 70m are obliged to call on pilots, whether for anchoring outside the port, entry or exit from the port, but also change of quay, docking in “La Grande Forme” or on the future 4300t platform.
LCS: How did you come to work on the 4300t boat lift project?
Mr. Rolland, director of the 4300t project invited us, and presented us with 2 quay configurations for the lift. We gave our opinion and made our recommendations in order to obtain greatest accessibility in terms of room for manoeuvre and size of vessel. The design office then made its decision.
LCS: How was the La Ciotat port simulator created?
The La Ciotat port simulator is an extension of the simulator we use for Marseille, Fos, and all the other ports we work on. We took a series of 20,000 photos of the whole area of La Ciotat harbour, which were compiled and modelled in a cartographic setting. We have of course added the draft and the depth, in short, everything that happens underwater and which we do not see.
The advantage of this simulator for manoeuvring rather than navigation, is that it also takes into account bottom protrusions, areas sheltered from the wind, currents… We can work on arrival in port, as well as simulating emergency manoeuvres or deteriorated situations. This also makes it possible to view the trajectory or to develop “Green handling”, which means manoeuvring using the least possible power and thus reducing the environmental impact.
LCS: What are the characteristics of the port of La Ciotat?
The port of La Ciotat is first of all constrained in terms of space. There are various constraints as there are several basins, and several types and sizes of ships. On the other side of the coin, its wind exposure is very favourable. It is located in a very protected area of La Ciotat bay, naturally sheltered. Furthermore, vessels are more and more efficient, more and more manoeuvrable, and with the experience of the pilots and the increasing technicality, the future of La Ciotat is guaranteed!
LCS: Are there also characteristics specific to yachts coming for refit at La Ciotat shipyards?
Yachts are very particular vessels. On the one hand they are very fragile and cost a lot, they also have painted hulls that must not be damaged. On the other hand, they are very technical vessels, with very efficient manoeuvring systems. They have transverse propellers in the front, others also in the rear and the engines are very powerful.
LCS: From the point of view of the pilots, how do you see such a project?
The pilot’s mission is to help the captain and the port operators. When a project such as the 4300t comes about, we are facilitators, by no means blockers. To the contrary, we find solutions and make improvements. We have been in contact with La Ciotat Shipyards to search for possible and feasible arrangements for bringing ever larger ships into port. Our goal is to bring all the boats back into port, and see them safely to their quay.
LCS: As a maritime expert, what do you think of the port of La Ciotat?
Our pilots are in charge of the ports in the Alpes Maritimes, namely Nice, Cannes, Villefranche, where a large part of the yacht fleet is concentrated. So we have a good knowledge of the sector, the ships and the captains. Our region is home to around 90% of the world’s fleet of yachts and mega-yachts in particular. For us, the La Ciotat site is a flagship for high technology because it hosts great companies. The captains regularly tell us so. The city is extremely well located, close to Marseille and Marignane airport. The existing infrastructure has been transformed and we have obtained one of the best industrial tools in the Mediterranean. So I don’t think there is any question about the future of La Ciotat Shipyards!