Maine Pilots interesting op eds


Saw these recently in the Portland Press Herald:



Capt Strong’s argument that a pilot is needed as a check on the captain’s authority is very weak to say the least.


Bay Ferries should be able to employ their own in-house pilots that remain onboard as part of the crew through out the voyage, same as most other ferries do. The USCG should specify the required federal pilot on the COI.

The State Pilotage Board and the Portland Pilots should be told to “go to hell.” Maine Governor Paul LaPage is just the right man to tell them to “go to hell.”

The US Attorney should prosecute the members of the state pilotage board and the Portland pilots for what they are, organized crime, under the criminal RICO statute.

Bay Ferries should amend their complaint to add civil RICO claims against the pilots and the pilotage board members. It’s a matter of principle, so no settlement. Take it to a jury trial, and if necessary up on appeal.


I would disagree, although I wouldn’t have used the word authority. While you may be a prudent mariner there are many that are not and would just as soon place personnel, environment, and infrastructure at great risk for the gain of their owners and in these instances the Pilot is a check.


I don’t think this is possible on a foreign flag vessel as the USCG would have no say on the COI. Furthermore, it is outside of the USCG jurisdiction to determine the pilot requirements as that is up to the State of Maine, again because the vessel is sailing foreign and carries a foreign flag. If these ferries were to fly the Stars and Stripes (good question: why aren’t they?) and were running coastwise it would be a different story.

As far as company pilots…they work for the company, not as agents of the state so they simply cannot be trusted to act in the States best interest.

It is abundantly clear you have issues with the State Pilotage systems, but their safety record is clear and it works which is why States and Industry allow it remain the way it is.


As I understand it, the vessel is owned by the US Navy, flies the US flag, is crewed by US Mariners, and is chartered to (presumably a US subsidiary) of Bay Ferries. This ferry service is not an independent profit making operation. I do not know the details, but it is a public service that is supported by the Province of Nova Scotia, the State of Maine, and probably by the US and Canadain federal governments. It’s we taxpayers who are going to end up paying the pilotage fees.

The ferry probably spends $2400 a trip on toilet paper. The $2400 pilot fee is not so much of a monetary issue as it is a government sanctioned white collar crime and public corruption issue. A band of thugs is using the power of government to shakedown a subsidized public service. This cannot be tolerated.

The US attorney should make a priority of prosecuting this blatant public corruption.


I not saying good arguments for pilotage don’t exist. I am saying that this particular one is weak,


“But the company, based in Prince Edward Island, is also trying to re-establish a ferry foothold between Portland and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.”

I read nothing about the US government being involved at all and if that were the case a US flag, government owned vessel would be exempted. As it were it seems it would be a foreign flag cruise ship looking for a Pilotage exemption, which if granted on a large scale in the US, would have serious negative implications on public safety and maritime policy (read Jones Act).

If you have issues with Pilotage in your state then you should contact your local representatives and the Pilot Commission and inform them of your grievances. I would not use terms like RICO in your correspondence though, for obvious reasons.


The vessel is owned by the navy and under charter, the entire run is government subsidized



Ohhh, OP should have posted the back story. I’m a very long way from Maine. Being a Cat they might get an exemption but any serious incident (minor MARPOL) will result in its review or revocation.

I would take issue with the $100k figure. That might be what the Pilots bill but after its all said and done the service will cost the Pilots a good chunk of that (fuel, wages, etc) and it will always require a pilot, meaning when traffic gets busy extra manpower will have to be allocated to the vessel. If an extra $100k is make or break for Bay Ferries then the operation simply isn’t profitable enough to sustain itself as that kind of coin is a drop in the bucket (it’s at least what they would spend on “company” pilots).

If I were bay ferries I would plead my case to the Pilot Commission and seek a better tariff. They could ask the pilots but I’m sure they are unable to, by law, cut them a deal, if they even wanted to at this point.

Before the good people of Portland give any economic concessions they should research how Rochester, NY tried this with its fast ferry to Toronto or maybe how the original owners fared in Hawaii. A lot might be learned.


Do they take a pilot on the other end of the trip?


It’s been a few years, but my recollection is something like this: the Hawaii Governor waived the state environmental impact statement about how it might affect the whales to get the ferry going. Green groups sued. The ferry went into operation, but did not do very well financially. Ultimately the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that the Governor did not have authority to waive the environmental impact statement. Rather than do the Environmental impact statement the ferry went bankrupt. Maybe Austal reposed them. They got sold to the Navy. My recollection is pretty hazy, but that’s about how I think it went.


Cost the state of Hawaii $41 million. MARAD is out $130 million.

Like I said $100k is a drop in the bucket.

Thought I’d throw this in. The only “company” pilots that I know of in the deep draft fleet work for TOTE on the Alaskan run. From what I’ve been told they board in Seattle ride to Alaska where they perform Pilotage service. They utilize State Pilots the ships in Pudget Sound. I heard this quite a while ago they may have discontinued company pilots.


under Title XI, MarAd had guaranteed the mortgages for the two so when the operation folded, the US Goobermint became the owners. At some point afterwards, the USN ended up with them to be used as fast transports but never put either into service hence their availability to be chartered for the Portland to Yarmouth run


Last time around, Portland screwed the Prince of Fundy (large slow but reliable ferry) in favor of The CAT. Then the Province of Nova Scotia pulled The CATS subsidies. The CAT stopped running. Yarmouth and the South Shore was economically devistated. The only jobs were working out in Fort Mac. Then that went to hell when the price of oil collapsed.

So the subsidies were restored and The CAT ferry service to Yarmouth was restarted. It’s mostly Canadian money. I’m not sure how much the US, Maine, and Portland are putting into it, but probably some money.

The CAT does not make sense to me. They need a ferry like the Prince of Fundy that carries a lot of trucks and cars. For most passengers it would make a lot more sense to subsidize flights. It’s damn near impossible to fly in or out of Nova Scotia for less than it costs to Fly to Europe.


I rode a Cat to Yarmouth from Bar Harbor as a passenger many years ago. Different ship? They had been ordered to reduce their speed after allegedly running over a fishing boat in fog. It was still impressive to sit in a casino or restaurant with your car safely tucked away down below, watching the screens with GPS displays showing our position as we scooted along at 45 knots.
I also rode on the Nova Star as a passenger and it sucked. The crew was from eastern Europe and had not concept of service to passengers. They were the only ones dancing to 80’s disco tunes in the disco lounge like a Saturday Night Live skit to the amusements of curious passengers .
They announced our arrival to Yarmouth two hours ahead of time by banging on the cabin doors and yelling for everybody to get up. I thought the ship was on fire or we were sinking.
The Nova Scotia government had set aside something like ten million dollars to help support the Nova Star throughout a ten year contract. The Nova Star burned through it in one year. Is this going to be a repeat?


Wow. Yeah, that’s very unprofessional.


Off topic but still funny. One time I was staying at a small hotel near Whitehall, NY (Lock 12 on the NYS Champlain Barge Canal and asked for a wake up call.

As I was passed out and sleeping really hard, I woke to someone holding the door up and YELLING Wake Up! This is your wake up call.

Some things you never forget. LOL