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Role of the Pilot

Since the 1800's the states of New York and New Jersey have developed a pilotage system to navigate ships with pilots who undergo many years of training and have intimate knowledge of local waters and port conditions. With approximately ninety per cent of the State's population living within ten miles of our coastlines, the safe conduct of a ship's navigation and passage into or out of port and protection of the environment while in State pilotage waters are key mission requirements of the State pilot system.

A major marine casualty in our region could be catastrophic. In this era of heightened national security with elevated threat levels currently in effect by the Department of Homeland Security and United States Coast Guard, the role of the State pilot has become of even more critical importance.

Having assumed the conn of a vessel, the State pilot bears enormous responsibility for bringing it safely into port. Pilots must deal with all types of vessels in all kinds of weather conditions ranging from calm, perfect sea conditions to days with high winds, poor visibility, tidal forces, and stormy seas often when under keel clearance between the bottom of the ship and the channel is less than three feet.

Pilot climbing aboard a ship

The qualifications for entrance into the State pilot system are rigorous. Sandy Hook apprentice pilots require at least five years in the apprentice training program riding 1,000 vessels. Compulsory State Pilotage has kept our waters and ports safe.  An Advanced Pilot Training Program ensures that New York State pilots are the best trained, equipped and informed professionals in the nation. Read more about training.

Duties of the Board, as provided by the New York Navigation Law include, among other responsibilities, establishing rules and regulations regarding pilot apprenticeships, approval of applications for apprenticeships and the examination of Sandy Hook, Hudson River and Long Island Sound Pilots for original licenses and any extensions of route.

New York State Pilots and Apprentices Licensed By The Board as of 31 December 2022 »