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Old 10-30-2014, 11:49 AM   #1
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A question about [maritime] pilots...

On reading through the autopilot thread, this had me interested. Figured I'd start a new thread rather than ask in that one.

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Originally Posted by SaltyDawg86 View Post
Hahaha!! If you think our duties end when a pilot shows up, you're sadly mistaken!

I live at the mouth of the Burnett River, Bundaberg. There is a sugar port in the river so I watch many vessels wait for the pilot to come out (also for the right tides as the swing basin at the port is very small). I've often wondered as I watch that little orange boat head out to the ships just what does happen when the pilot comes aboard? What is involved in the 'handover' and then what subsequent duties are perfomed by the captain and pilot once the pilot is in control(is s/he, indeed, actually in control, technically?).

Care to shed some light some light on this for a curious, no AP toy boater
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Old 10-30-2014, 12:30 PM   #2
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On an aircraft carrier, the pilot is announced to the bridge crew when he comes aboard and with his ETA to the bridge. Once he reaches the bridge, he will be in-briefed by the Navigator in the CO's presence. Any hazards, changes to the Nav plan, Anchoring plan etc are discussed and then at the appropriate time if everyone concurs, the harbor pilot is "Offered the Conn". He accepts ("I have the Conn") and then the OOD or CO reply "Roger... Harbor Pilot has the Conn". From there on out the Pilot issues commands to the Nav Team and takes us either to an anchorage, moorage or approach to the berth. This is all in the same fashion our watch standers maintain (everything requires the concurrence of the Navigator and OOD. If coming pier side, the CO will normally order the OOD to "Take the Conn" and the Pilot is relieved. The Conn Officer and/or OOD will then bring us alongside and coordinate with the tugs to get us in position and moored.


To be clear, the pilot (Like the OOD) never has the "Command" of the ship, only of the watch team and their "recommendations" to the Navigator and CO.

It's steeped rich in precedence and protocol. Pretty cool to be a part of. I was OOD Underway qual'd on the USS Abraham Lincoln. Very impressive opportunity to be a part of the bridge team as an enlisted guy.
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Old 10-30-2014, 12:42 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SomeSailor View Post
On an aircraft carrier, the pilot is announced to the bridge crew when he comes aboard and with his ETA to the bridge. Once he reaches the bridge, he will be in-briefed by the Navigator in the CO's presence. Any hazards, changes to the Nav plan, Anchoring plan etc are discussed and then at the appropriate time if everyone concurs, the harbor pilot is "Offered the Conn". He accepts ("I have the Conn") and then the OOD or CO reply "Roger... Harbor Pilot has the Conn". From there on out the Pilot issues commands to the Nav Team and takes us either to an anchorage, moorage or approach to the berth. This is all in the same fashion our watch standers maintain (everything requires the concurrence of the Navigator and OOD. If coming pier side, the CO will normally order the OOD to "Take the Conn" and the Pilot is relieved. The Conn Officer and/or OOD will then bring us alongside and coordinate with the tugs to get us in position and moored.

To be clear, the pilot (Like the OOD) never has the "Command" of the ship, only of the watch team and their "recommendations" to the Navigator and CO.

It's steeped rich in precedence and protocol. Pretty cool to be a part of. I was OOD Underway qual'd on the USS Abraham Lincoln. Very impressive opportunity to be a part of the bridge team as an enlisted guy.
This is the same as I experienced on the ships I was stationed on. I do not know if commercial vessels are any different. Pretty sure the nav team is smaller.
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Old 10-30-2014, 01:13 PM   #4
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Excellent description. Commercial is less formal but basically the same. Pilot also does most of the VHF communications and usually comms. with tugs, etc... mostly due to language barriers.
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Old 10-30-2014, 04:25 PM   #5
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Very similar to what happens when you go through the Panama Canal with a canal pilot on a private vessel. He comes aboard takes the "conn" and tells you where to go and at what speed. And he is the one handling the communications as well.

Of course it was a little more casual when I went through the canal twice in a 24' RIB. But not by much.
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Old 10-31-2014, 07:29 PM   #6
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I was always impressed with the Pilot and Pilot's Launch Boat's skippers skill at just grabbing a Jacobs ladder in six foot seas.
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Old 10-31-2014, 07:44 PM   #7
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After spending 20 years as a master for Exxon and Matson, my father was a San Francisco Bar Pilot for 25 years, until age 76. Click on the link below and then the "watch video" link. It will give you an idea of what they do.

San Francisco Bar Pilots | Committed to Protecting the Bay Since 1850

Current salary for a SF Barpilot is around $430K per year and they are only allowed to work 10 days per month. My dad always said that he retired too soon.
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Old 10-31-2014, 11:44 PM   #8
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I am with you Ulysses. Had a friend who was a port pilot in Jax, Fl. and they would go out in any weather to board and bring ships in. Getting from a 40' or so boat to a massive ship in really bad weather is a dangerous undertaking.
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Old 11-01-2014, 12:07 AM   #9
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As I come and go from my berth at Kangaroo Point in the Brisbane River I keep a listening watch on the Port Traffic Control. Pilots typically board near Caloundra, outside Moreton Bay, and then bring ships into port through narrow channels, a journey of about 30-35 nautical miles. The typical instructions to the vessel are: at the designated time have two man-ropes and one heaving line 2m above water surface, boarding speed 7 knots.

Cant say I'd fancy clambering up man-ropes - whatever those guys earn they are welcome to it!
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Old 11-01-2014, 04:22 AM   #10
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Thanks for the answers all, very interesting.
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