from L-R: Managing director of Williams Shipping, Philip Williams; Rev. Phil Hiscock, port chaplain; Leader of Portsmouth City Council, Cllr Steve Pitt; Portsmouth International Port's port director Mike Sellers and Portsmouth International Port's harbour master, Ben McInnes

Portsmouth International Port marked their new pilot boarding agreement with Williams Shipping by welcoming their pilot boats to the city.

Portsmouth International Port’s pilots have detailed knowledge of Portsmouth Harbour and are experts on how to manoeuvre a wide range of vessels. They board ships in the outer Solent and help the crew to guide the vessel safely into and out of the port, working 24 hours a day in all sorts of weather.

This new agreement, which starts on 1 June, is tailored to the needs of Portsmouth International Port’s pilotage service. It will mean increased flexibility for the ever-increasing number of cruise and cargo vessels that use the port. The contract was awarded to Hampshire-based Williams Shipping following an in-depth nationwide tendering process.

Willserve and Willfreedom alongside in Old Portsmouth

The new pilot boats, named Willserve and Willfreedom, were greeted by Leader of Portsmouth City Council, Cllr Steve Pitt; Managing Director of Williams Shipping, Philip Williams and Portsmouth International Port’s harbour master, Ben McInnes, alongside port director Mike Sellers.

Port Chaplain Rev. Phil Hiscock blessed the boats for the service they will provide for the port’s pilots. Willserve will be the primary pilot boat used by the port’s pilots, with Willfreedom providing support when needed.

Ben McInnes said: “I’m delighted to welcome Williams Shipping’s launches to Portsmouth. The launches will be essential in the safe boarding of our team of pilots onto ships, as they arrive at Portsmouth International Port. As the port becomes increasingly busy, we have found a provider who we can work in tandem with to ensure we can offer the best possible service to our customers.

“I’ve been working closely with Philip and the team at Williams Shipping to ensure a smooth start to the new service. I can’t wait to get started on this new chapter for the pilotage service here in Portsmouth.”

Williams Shipping is a family business established in 1894, now looked after by the fifth generations of the Williams family. For 129 years Williams Shipping has supported the UK’s marine and logistics industries with a broad range of services.

The Marine division provides port and marine services including towage, craneage, stores deliveries, equipment hire, marine civils support and crew transfer, operating a fleet of over 20 workboats and vessels, and the largest UK registered fleet of barges, including dedicated wind turbine blade transport.

Headquartered in Southampton and with marine bases in Milford Haven and Aberdeen, Williams Shipping has looked for an opportunity to expand further across the South Coast. This opportunity to work alongside Portsmouth International Port opens many doors, enabling them to further supporting the marine industry.

Philip Williams said: “We are very excited to further develop our relationship with Portsmouth International Port with this new venture.  Willserve and Willfreedom are great additions to our fleet and we look forward to having them in service supporting the port’s increasing number of high-profile customers.”

Portsmouth International Port is the UK’s most successful municipal port, which is owned and operated by Portsmouth City Council.

Cllr Steve Pitt said: “Portsmouth International Port’s growth is vital to the city’s economy. Not only does the port provide £9.8million of revenue that goes straight back into the council’s budget which helps us provide essential services, it also acts as an engine that generates £189m for the local economy every year.

“This new agreement will give a major boost for the port’s growth ambitions, and help them fulfil their aims they set out in their 20 year Masterplan that was published last year.”