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VIPA Harbor Pilots


What is a Harbor Pilot?

The Virgin Islands Port Authority employs eight harbor pilots: three on St. Croix and five for the St. Thomas/St. John district.  All harbor pilots take their directives from the Authority's marine managers.  They also are required to board vessels when departing and pilot them safely out of harbors, and to pilot vessels in the coastal waters of the US Virgin Islands. Harbor pilots are required to respond to requests from vessels any time of the day or night.

They provide advice to the vessels’ master and other officers in maintenance of course and speed in order to navigate vessels safely.  Other duties of a VIPA harbor pilot include providing all information necessary for the preparation of bills for all vessels of 100 gross tons or above or all other vessels requesting the services of a harbor pilot; filling out pilot reports on all ships entering VI water of 100 gross tons or over and on less that 100 tons when such vessel engages the services of a pilot; assisting in placing and locating buoys under Virgin Islands Port Authority jurisdiction; assisting in maintaining channels clear of traffic and also insures that the pilot’s logs and pertinent information regarding marine traffic are kept up to date.

The job of a harbor pilot requires a great deal of training.  Pilots must have knowledge of the channels, water depths, tides and currents adjacent to the harbors and coastal areas of the islands.  They must have the ability to pilot vessels in and out of the harbors of the US Virgin Islands under varying and difficult weather conditions.  Pilots must have thorough knowledge of the operating conditions and piloting requirements of a variety of types of vessels any gross tonnage. In addition, they must have thorough knowledge of the “Rules of the Roads” (International-Inland) M1667.2C, knowledge of the Virgin Islands Port Authority Marine Rules and Regulations and of the VIPA Marine Tariff.

Our port pilots must be a US Citizen with a valid US Coast Guard Second Mate’s license and proof of sea time having sailed as a Second Mate.  Pilots are required to have made a minimum of one voyage of at least 30 days duration, or a valid US Coast Guard issued Master 1,600 Gross Tons License with proof of sea time having sailed as a Master of towing vessels with a minimum of 720 days as Operator of Master of harbor assisting towing vessels.  They must also meet established US Coast Guard minimum physical and health standards.

Harbor pilots operating in the St. Thomas/St. John district must have a thorough knowledge of the Charlotte Amalie harbor, including the East and West Gregerie Channel, Crown Bay, and Esso Terminal.  They must also have a thorough knowledge of the coastal waters of St. Thomas and St. John.

Harbor Pilots on St. Croix must have a thorough knowledge of the Frederiksted Harbors, Christiansted Harbors, Limetree Bay, Krause Lagoon and connecting channels. They must also have a thorough knowledge of the coastal waters of St. Croix.


Other Seaport Personnel:

Chief Wharfinger - supervises and directs all duties of all VIPA seaport employees responsible for coordinating 24-hour ship movement schedules, collection of port fees, property and safety inspections of seaport tenant spaces and facilities, and ensuring quality customer service and compliance with Port tariff rules and regulations.

Seaman  - handles mooring lines and fenders of a launch, and performs general cleaning and maintenance work on pilot boats and other vessels.

Coxswains - are skilled in work commanding and steering a pilot boat launch, and takes the harbor pilots to and from vessels entering and leaving the harbor.

Dockmasters - are responsible for constant surveillance of their assigned seaport.  Dockmasters assign and direct incoming vessels to their assigned berths, delivers bills and information to vessels with port agents, collect fees from vessels without agents and supervises the work of the dock caretaker or dock attendant.


This page was last edited on 08/22/2017 10:37 AM

Virgin Islands Port Authority
8074 Lindbergh Bay
P.O. Box 301707
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands  00803-1707
Tel: (340) 774-1629  Fax: (340) 774-0025
Developed by the VIPA Public Relations Department

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