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Pilotage La Rochelle-CharenteThe Pilots’role

  When approaching roadsteds, rivers and ports, the pilot’s role consists in providing the Captain with local knowledge and expertise to ensure safe navigation and protection of the environment.

  Through daily practice pilots develop specific skills and techniques to manoeuvre ships in narrow waters and port installations whatever the conditions : wind, current, shallow waters or reduced visibility.

  Those qualities make it possible to optimise port traffic, ensuring the quickest possible access to the piers and steady flow of ship movements. Optimisation is indeed an integral part of the competitivity of a port.

Compulsory pilotage

  Compulsory pilotage is the primary means of protecting both private and public interests from consequences resulting from maritime accidents, while at the same time improving shipping efficiency.

  Pilotage is compulsory within bounds set for each port by the pilot station local rules which are initialled by the Maritime affairs. The ships whose Captains have a pilot-captain license are exempted from that obligation.

Pilotage organisation

  In France, pilotage is a public service managed in a “private” way by the pilots under state control.

  The pilots are appointed individually by the State and gather in a collective ownership of the necessary equipment (pilot boats, premises ….). The collective ownership is managed by a professional union represented by the Syndicate President. That system promotes the interests of all parties : the shipowners, the port, the pilots and the State. The service organisation of the pilot station is placed under the authority of the Chief Pilot.

  All the stations belong to the French Federation of Maritime Pilots who see to the pilot’s interests on a national, European, and world level.

Pilot legislation

Maritime pilotage is ruled by the article L5341-1 and following of French transportation Code (ordinance N° 2010-1307 of october the 28th, 2010) and by Decree of May the 19th 1969, lately updated in 2009. The working of pilotage stations is under the oversight of the Minister of Transport Following the civil service decentralisation which took place in 1982, the authority of the Minister of Transport was transferred to the Prefect of the Region through the control exercised by the Regional Director of Maritime affairs. The prefect of the Region is thus responsible for setting up the pilot station local rules which determine in particular the bounds of compulsory pilotage, the number of pilots, the equipment used for service and the fees, after consulting the Commercial Assembly who represent the various port users.

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