What does a Pilot, Ship do?

Command ships to steer them into and out of harbors, estuaries, straits, or sounds, or on rivers, lakes, or bays. Must be licensed by U.S. Coast Guard with limitations indicating class and tonnage of vessels for which license is valid and route and waters that may be piloted.

Jobs Roles

  • Set ships' courses that avoid reefs, outlying shoals, or other hazards, using navigational aids, such as lighthouses or buoys.
  • Direct courses and speeds of ships, based on specialized knowledge of local winds, weather, water depths, tides, currents, and hazards.
  • Steer ships into or out of berths or signal tugboat captains to berth or unberth ships.
  • Prevent ships under their navigational control from engaging in unsafe operations.
  • Consult maps, charts, weather reports, or navigation equipment to determine and direct ship movements.
  • Give directions to crew members who are steering ships.
  • Maintain ship logs.
  • Serve as a vessel's docking master upon arrival at a port or when at a berth.
  • Operate ship-to-shore radios to exchange information needed for ship operations.
  • Provide assistance in maritime rescue operations.
  • Provide assistance to vessels approaching or leaving seacoasts, navigating harbors, or docking and undocking.
  • Report to appropriate authorities any violations of federal or state pilotage laws.
  • Learn to operate new technology systems and procedures, through the use of instruction, simulators, or models.
  • Advise ships' masters on harbor rules and customs procedures.
  • Oversee cargo storage on or below decks.
  • Relieve crew members on tugs or launches.
  • Maintain or repair boats or equipment.
  • Make nautical maps.
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