Sunday, March 04, 2007

Emma Maersk

My old friend and former Dufferin batchmate 'Fred' Kelkar* e-mailed me some photographs of the Emma Maersk recently. This 11000 TEU vessel, currently the largest container ship in the world, is a regular caller at our Port of Tanjung Pelepas (PTP) in Johore where her owners have a minority stake.

I remember when third generation container vessels first made their appearance in Port Klang in the mid 70's, we pilots then still have to make do with whistles (yep, the same type used by football referees) to signal our orders and intentions to tug boats and wharfingers, using single letter Morse code. This was often followed by some frantic hand waving, jumping up and down and a lot of yelling and screaming. It took us some time to finally convince a very conservative management to buy us portable hand held radio transceivers or walkie talkies. These items are very common and much taken for granted these days that I believe even illegal pirated DVD peddlers in Petaling Street also now use them to warn each other of impending raids by the police!

I cannot imagine if pilots were still to use whistles when trying to berth or unberth vessels of above size.

* Capt. Subhash Kelkar is now an independent nautical surveyor in San Francisco, serving the Bay area.

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