Role of the Board
The Board of Commissioners of Pilots (the "Board") is a public agency, created by the New York State Legislature, Chapter 467, Laws of 1853, as amended to provide for the the competitive selection, training, licensing and regulation of State pilots who navigate oceangoing vessels which operate on New York State waters and waters of concurrent jurisdiction in Connecticut and New Jersey. The States, under authority granted by the Congress, have exercised authority to control the piloting of vessels along their waterways, including coastal waterways within the territorial limits of the States, since before the federal constitution was adopted. Federal Law and Regulation (46USC 8501(A)), provides that "pilots in the bays, rivers, Harbors, and ports of the United States shall be regulated only in conformity with the laws of the States," and that "the States have authority over the Pilotage of all American vessels sailing under register, that is, engaged in foreign trade, and all foreign flag vessels" (Interport Pilots Agency Inc. v. Board 14 F2d at 136)
The Board holds weekly public meetings (every Tuesday morning at 10:30 A.M.) for the purpose of maintaining close oversight of the State pilotage system and operations. Each New York State pilot license is renewed annually, following a personal performance interview, at which the pilot's vision, medical records, training and work performance are reviewed in detail. Board members attend additional meetings, hearings, seminars, and conferences on pilotage and navigational safety related subjects with maritime industry, state and federal agency representatives. The Board continuously emphasizes professional development and promotes the highest standards of care and safety in the conduct of marine operations.
To carry out the Board's responsibilities under the New York Navigation Law, the Board provides for educational grants to State pilot associations and participates in funding for advanced State pilot training and technology, including carry-aboard laptop computers equipped with electronic charting and GPS positioning equipment, software development and training, participation in authorizing funds for the construction of new pilot boats and other capital items, including the acquisition of cell phones for use aboard ships on the Hudson River and azipod propulsion system and tractor tug training.
The Board currently issues three types of legislatively authorized State pilot licenses, each covering a separate portion of New York State navigable waters. Jurisdiction, originally as to Sandy Hook Pilots at the Port of New York in 1853, was extended to Hell Gate Pilots by Chapter 283, Laws of 1928; extended to Hudson River pilots by Chapter 676, Laws of 1959; and extended to Long Island Sound-Block Island Sound pilots by Chapter 942, Laws of 1971.
The New York State Pilotage Districts under the responsibility of this Board are:
The Board maintains regular contact and cooperative working relationships with the:
The Board seeks to work cooperatively on maritime safety and security matters with the:
The Board regards the matter of safety of navigation, protection of the environment, security of our ports and waterways, and thorough training, licensing, professional accountability, and oversight of competitively selected State pilots among its highest priorities.
Operations and daily routines have continued to be characterized by high standards of performance within the State pilotage system. Safety and quality programs have continued throughout 2007, and have yielded positive results. The physical size, cargo tonnage carried and number of port calls of ships navigating State waters has grown continuously over the past five years. Ship traffic and tonnage volumes increased during 2007, with the introduction of a number of large passenger and container freight vessels. The Board made several grants for advanced pilot education and training and made safety awards for outstanding performance of duty in the safety of navigation and protection of the environment. Yet, marine accidents and casualties are at their lowest historic levels ever in terms of significant marine accidents per year and tonnage carried.
The Board welcomes inquiries regarding the State pilotage system, and is always available for consultations with respect to the safety of navigation, State pilot licensing, and marine environmental matters. To contact the board click here ».