Pilotage service. Ordering a pilot. Process of Pilotage

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Pilotage service

The Pilotage service is a special service aimed to render assistance to vessels in port and coastal waters navigation. Such service has been established in every maritime country. In most countries the Pilotage ser­vice is owned by the government and pilots are employed by the government. Besides there are some countries where pilot service is run by the private corporations, shipping companies. But all pilot service are under strict control of the government.

Ordering a pilot

Approaching the port vessel may order a pilot by a various means. Master can send radiogram to order a pilot. If he sends a radiogram he should indicate some information about the ship. It may be gross tonnage, ships name, ships type and e.t. In the daytime flag «G» must be hoisted. «G» means: «I require a pilot». In the nighttime and in case of poor visibility whistle and lights may be used. A pilot also may be ordered by VHF radio.


There are some documents connected with the Pilotage. There are:
- Pilotage bill/note
- the Disbursement account
- Pilot card

The Pilotage bill/note is a document with some information about the ship. The Master and Pilot should fill it in after the Pilotage. Disbursement account is a document showing all vessels expensive incurred while staying in a port. Pilot card should be completed before Pilotage, because pilot need information about the ship.

Process of Pilotage

The process of Pilotage is always started from the completing of a pilot card and ordering the pilot by means of communications. Then the pilot embarked the responsible officer must show him the way to the bridge. Flag “H” must be hoisted. It is necessary to know that pilot only advises ship Master in navigation. After the Pilotage Master fills in a Pilotage bill and the pilot is disembarked.


Master must ensure:

ü  the appropriate charts

ü  navigational aid are in good working order

ü  an efficient watch (officer on watch, helmsmen and lookout are posted)

ü  inform pilot about

·  ships destination and ETA

·  physical characteristics of the ship

·  ships maneuvering characteristics

·  crew and watch availability

Pilot must inform:

ü  the information about destination, berth, which side to, ETA, tugs

ü  the passage to destination, Pilotage plan

ü  weather and tidal conditions expected

ü  vessels traffic system

ü  details or particular sections of the passage requiring more detailed information

If the Master leaves the bridge he must ensure the OOW understands and gives clear instructions to him.

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