Maritime Pilot and His Duties


While captains are in-charge of ships, the role of a maritime pilot is equally important. The role and duties of a maritime pilot is quite different from that of the ship’s captain. As the name suggests, Marine pilots help in manoeuvring ships while arriving or departing a port.


The duties and importance of marine pilot can be explained below

  • While the ship’s captain handles the job of navigating the ship in the water, when the situation gets risky or there is any situation which demands greater skill in the manoeuvring of the ship, the maritime pilot acts as the person who advises the captain what route to take and what changes need to be made during ship’s routine manoeuvring while entering or leaving a port.
  • The role of the pilot increases even further when the size of the ship is taken into account. Ships that carry cargo or are used as oil tankers need the expertise of pilots as they are quite heavy and difficult to manoeuvre. The bulk of the ship makes it important that there is a pilot who can navigate the ship safely without any loss. Marine jobs like that of a marine pilot also help in protecting the marine life and habitat.
  • If the entry to a particular port is quite narrow, then the pilot has to be used because it’s the pilot who knows the way and ensure that the boat or ship passes through the narrow gateway without any incident


The maritime pilot, keeping in mind all the above factors is therefore hired locally. The factor of the pilot being local ensures that he is familiar with the water area and thereby is able to guide the ship appropriately.

Marine pilot has to work alongside the ship’s captain and this is why there has to be a good communication between these two professionals. If there is any miscommunication, it could lead to large scale problems for the ship and the shipping company.

In order to become a maritime pilot, a person interested in becoming a pilot needs to get a pilot license. Only if the person has the license, is he allowed to manoeuvre a ship. The license issued to a maritime pilot is specific to the area where the pilot usually works.

The marine pilot however is not a direct employee of the ship. He is like an outside expert hired to oversee ships navigating in the waters. This being the case, it can be said that the marine pilot is not actually a part of the ship’s crew and therefore does not travel along with the crew. He has a special charter craft from which he enters the ship that he has to control. This charter craft could either be a helicopter or another boat (Generally the later one is used). He then enters the ship and makes sure that the manoeuvring of the ship is done as required.

There are some ships that do not require the assistance of a marine pilot. Such ships have a certificate known as the ‘pilot exemption certificate.’ The reason that these ships have such a certificate is because they visit limited number of ports and harbours which is why the captain of the ship is more than adequate to handle the ship.

Sometimes not knowing about a profession does not mean that the profession is not important. Marine jobs like that of a marine pilot is one such profession. It can be said that being a marine pilot offers uniqueness to a person’s choice of career as even though the profession of a marine pilot is relatively unknown, it happens to be one of the oldest professions.