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.
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
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
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.