In this article we continue our encounters with the partners of PSA Voltri-Pra. Today we have the pleasure of talking to Silvio Bignone, Captain of the Towage Group.
The Rimorchiatori Riuniti Group was founded in 1922 and today boasts 920 mariners. The Genoa branch of the Rimorchiatori Riuniti Group takes care of the Porto of Genoa – covering an area from the old port of the city to the basin of Voltri-Prà – with seven boats active over a 24-hour period. As well as the Porto of Genoa, the Rimorchiatori Riuniti Group SPA is present in Salerno, Augusta, Siracusa, Catania, Pozzallo, Malta and also participates in Trieste, Ravenna, Ancona, Ortona and Pescara.
The collaboration between our Terminal and the Group started back at the end of the eighties and today it is stronger than ever. “VTE is constantly improving and this has a knock on effect on the services. The ships that arrive here are getting bigger and bigger and require tugboats that are up to size. We try to constantly upgrade the tugs to meet these necessities. For this reason we are investing heavily in new vessels”, Bignone told us.
In contrast to the piloting and mooring, the towage service is optional in the Port of Genoa. Bignone describes a typical operation for the tugs: “As the ship approaches the coast it contacts the Maritime Authorities. A dialogue is opened with the Maritime Pilot about the weather conditions, mooring, etc. the pilot evaluates the situation and, if he deems it necessary, in agreement with the Ship’s Captain he requests the towage service. From that moment the operational procedures begin with radio contact between the tug and the Pilot. Throughout the manoeuvres the tug is at the complete disposal of the ship and the orders of the Pilot. His job is to assist with the manoeuvres”.
It’s a job where the human aspect is still very important despite the advancements in technology. A crew consists of three people: a Tug Master, an Engineering Officer and a Marine Assistant. The vessels are very comfortable because the crew stay onboard for two consecutive days. After such time the crew has the right to four days off. The average age of the mariners is 42 years old, thanks to the recent handover from the older generation. In general whoever works on the tugs has amassed considerable experience in navigation. This experience is fundamental and is brought along to the port service.
Captain Bignone has a special relationship with the territory of our Terminal and he explains: “I come from Prà. I’ve been part of the group for 25 years. Beforehand I worked off-shore because the Group has some vessels that carry out assistance to the oil rigs. Then I was lucky enough to become part of the port crew. I was part of the staff of the tugboats and I’ve been part of the Operations Staff for the last six years. I have grown up here. Over the years I have seen the development of the Terminal thanks to the investment of the PSA Group. The Port is an institution and if it works well it is a benefit to the whole territory”.