Marine Pilots

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Marine Pilots

Marine Pilots - Overview

Ship pilots guide ships through channels, harbors, or other waterways.

Ship pilots are also called marine pilots. Ship pilots direct large ships through bodies of water to reduce chances of accidents in areas that are congested or dangerous. They board the ship prior to it entering the waterway. They know how different levels of water and changes in the weather affect navigating that particular waterway. They use:

  • Charts
  • Computerized equipment
  • Maps
  • Weather reports

Some pilots use tugboats to lead ships. Others steer the ships themselves or direct the workers who are at the helm. They make decisions about the speed of ships based on their weight, the current, the weather, and the tide. They monitor lighthouses, buoys, and other markers while steering ships.

Harbor pilots operate ships within harbors. Some pilots work on one vessel that stays within the harbor area. Other ship pilots work on different ships during the same day. Each ship may be from a different country, and pilots may work with crews who speak other languages.

Ship pilots help with or direct rescue situations.

Pilots maintain daily logs of operations and problems. They report illegal ship operations to the proper authorities. Because navigation technology is constantly updating, they also learn how to operate new technology systems.

Source: Illinois Career Information System (CIS) brought to you by Illinois Department of Employment Security.