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Harbor pilots control vessels in and out of ports

In light of Sunday's Baltimore harbor bridge disaster, many are questioning the role of the harbor pilots in guiding huge seagoing vessels in and out of their respective ports.


The pilots in the Baltimore Port situation must guide the vessels all the way through the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay originating in the open ocean. They sail on small pilot boats to meet the vessels in rough ocean waters where they jump to the vessels often on rope ladders leading to the vessels’ decks and depart the same way. Some pilot men and women have been injured or even killed making that leap in rough seas.


In Maryland, like many ports, port pilots must have a college degree from a maritime academy and at least ten years of seagoing experience, along with an additional five-year apprenticeship before becoming fully licensed.


It is a dangerous and grueling job, as reported in our July 2021 Florida Harbor Pilots edition.


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