As part of our COVID-19 Blog Series, Marine Pilot Finn Froekjaer-Jensen tells us how his job has changed in the face of the pandemic.

As a Marine Pilot, it is my job to ensure safe transit for any vessels into and through the port. To do this, I will usually board the ship, take the conn and either steer the vessel or guide it safely through the mouth of the harbour and over to its berth.

As you can imagine, the outbreak of COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the way I carry out my job. It means that I must now adhere to social distancing guidelines which, in the compact confines of the vessels bridge, can be particularly challenging.

Before the pandemic, I would spend a lot of time interacting with the crew of the ship, regularly chatting over a cup of tea. This has now changed to minimise the face-to-face contact as much as possible. I have also had to ensure that I wear all the relevant personal protective equipment (PPE), including disposable gloves and face masks when going on board. Not being able to see someone’s smile as well as shake their hand has a larger impact than you think.

Additionally, all of my paperwork is now done electronically or over the radio. While this did take some getting used to at first, it has now become second nature and has had a beneficial impact to the efficiency of our operations.

The pilots have our own office space. Usually I would go around to the other departments and say hello, but we are now unable to visit our colleagues in other offices, nor welcome visitors. We do, however, regularly make use of digital technologies to stay in contact and ensure we are all updated with our team’s progress.  Many of my fellow employees have been able to work from home, so there are only few faces left around. It’s been eye-opening to see that a business as big and important as Aberdeen Harbour can be run from home offices around the region.

The past few months have been particularly challenging for the pilots, as the additional rules and regulations have reduced the face-to-face contact onboard the ships, but as always, we at the Harbour are working hard to overcome whatever challenges arise. Despite the pandemic, I’m continuing to do what I love; be a friendly face for visiting crews and an ambassador for the city. In times like these, being friendly matters even more than it normally does.