ATB Pilotage Required Based on Combined Gross Tonnage


#1

Greetings,

I’m sure this will garner a quick answer since I’m pretty shabby with the CFR’s and often overlook things.

We recently told dispatch that we needed a pilot for the transit upriver from sea into the anchorage for bunkers but later would not need a pilot to shift across the channel to the berth. It’s barely a quarter mile. Our boss said that we had to take a pilot even for short shifts because we are over 10,000 gross “combined.” This unit is an ATB, our tank barge is 9787 Gross Tons and the tug is SOLAS at 197 GRT and 682 ITC. Is this true that the “combined” tonnage is the deciding factor? I was always under the impression that so long as the barge was under 10,000 GRT that we didn’t need a pilot so long as we had recency. In 46 CFR § 15.812 they reference the barge and the tug as separate vessels and I couldn’t find anything governed by “combined” tonnage save for sea service accrual. Is there a NVIC or something out there that I’m not seeing?

We’re happy to take the pilot as we typically do regardless of recency since the charter is happy to pay for them. It just seemed unnecessary for such a short shift; you know, trying to save them money. So this is really just a matter of curiosity.


#2

U.S. Coast Pilots might be easier to use as a source then direct to the CFRs. Between the requirements for pilotage and the definitions section you might find the answers, or at least the specific cfr you need to look at.


#3

Which river?
A barge is a barge whether pushing or towing.


#4

According to my math 9787 + 197 = 9984


#5

Depends where you are. Each pilot association sets there own requirements for a pilot to board. In Jacksonville, a river pilot, state pilot, will come on an atb or us flagged tanker and ride them to the berth. Part of the way up the docking master, federal pilot, comes on a takes over. If the atb or tanker shifts, all that is needed is the federal pilot, docking master. When the atb or tanker leaves to go back offshore, both the state and federal pilot will be onboard for departure. Once the ship leaves the dock, the federal pilot disembarks and the state pilot stays on the rest of the way. Odd yes, but works real well.


#6

Here’s what the Coast Pilot says about JAX:

Pilotage, Jacksonville
(103) Pilotage is compulsory for all foreign vessels and for
U.S. vessels under register. Pilotage is optional for U.S.
coastwise vessels that have on board a pilot licensed by
the Federal Government. Pilotage is available from St.
Johns Bar Pilot Association, 4910 Ocean Street, Mayport,
FL; telephone 904–249–5631, FAX 904–249–7523;
email admin@jaxpilots.com. Federal Pilots for inner
harbor shifts and docking services can be reached at
904–757–6900 Florida Docking Masters Association or
on VHF-FM channel 7A and 904-642-9880.


#7

The use of GT and GRT is confusing. In this case the combined Gross Tonnage is 10469 (GT).
If you guys gets confused, how are foreigners going to keep this straight??
Time to go ITC only??


#8

I could not agree more.


#9

You should be consulting your “State” authority for whether pilotage is required.

The USCG regulates US flag vessels, yes. But the authority regarding Pilotage falls to the local jurisdiction, the State in which you are transiting their waters. It is confusing. But the effort errs on the side of safety. Foreign ships are actually easier to manage, as there is typically a clear and simple rule for them…you’re a foreigner.

For US flag ships and mariners, there are special rules to ironically, make it easier for them. But calling for a State Pilot is still the safest thing to do. Especially if the charterer is willing to pay.

We are confronted with this issue where I work all the time. Local USCG COTP has set some guidelines that are pretty clear. Our local Harbormaster (State employee) defers to them, simply because he doesn’t know what’s best to do. Better to err (again) on the safe side.


#10

Depends where you are. Each pilot association sets there own requirements for a pilot to board.

In theory, the associations have no direct/absolute say on state pilotage requirements. State Pilotage Authorities (usually a board of commissioners, overseen by the state legislature and/or governor) are the ones who decide that. Certainly on paper, that’s how it’s supposed to work. Different stakeholders (pilots, shipping associations, etc) all get their two cents in…

In 46 CFR § 15.812 they reference the barge and the tug as separate vessels and I couldn’t find anything governed by “combined” tonnage save for sea service accrual.

It’s all in 46 CFR 15.812, as you’ve already found. Federal pilotage requirements are the same for all U.S. ports. U.S.-flag vessels meeting certain tonnages (depending on type) under coastwise endorsements and on domestic voyages only require a Federally-licensed Pilot. States are specifically prohibited from imposing further restrictions to vessels that meet these criteria.

The only exception to this is Prince William Sound. There, the pilot must be someone who is not part of the crew and is an Alaska state-licensed pilot even if only piloting a U.S. flag vessel on a domestic voyage. This was put into place as part of OPA '90, supposedly to further protect PWS.

This unit is an ATB, our tank barge is 9787 Gross Tons and the tug is SOLAS at 197 GRT and 682 ITC. Is this true that the “combined” tonnage is the deciding factor?

I don’t see anything that takes into consideration the tonnage of the towing vessel. I’m also not aware of any case law that’s challenged this. If your gross tonnage is only 9787 (and in this context, GRT vs. ITC is irrelevant) then the requirement for a Federal Pilot does not apply and no state can impose any other pilotage requirement on you. The requirements for the person “acting as pilot” to have “recency” do apply though. Keep in mind that it’s not simply just the route requirements, but the annual medical exam is also needed (that’s the Pilot Expiration date on your med cert).

That all being said… lots of terminals (mostly oil ones) require that vessels over a certain size utilize the services of the local pilot group, regardless of the legal requirements. The oil major’s chartering groups tend to require them anyways and since they’re paying the bills, there’s really no skin off the Master’s back to use one. Most (probably close to all) State pilots are also Federal Pilots so the service (other than in ports where there are separate Federal groups) is the same regardless.


#11

Foreign flagged vessels (except some yachts) are never exempt from pilotage.


#12

The US and Canada have an MOU. Canadian tugs are generally exempt from pilotage in the US, and American tugs are generally exempt from pilotage in Canada.

I’ve never taken a pilot on trips to Canada. I’ve seen many Canadian tugs coming to the dock in the US without taking a pilot.

Since the NATHAN STEWART incident there are some new emergency requirements in BC, and the entire pilotage system is under review Canada wide.

I rarely go to Mexican ports. The agents always claim that “all foreign vessels” must take a compulsory pilot. But I’ve never actually had a Mexican pilot either inbound or outbound, or coasting between Mexican ports. I have been “piloted” by following a local Mexican tug. I suspect that while technically required, that the Mexican pilots are not interested in bothering with it because the fees are too small for a tug.


#13

I’ve seen this all over South and Central America over the years on tugs and OSVs. The fees are collected…pilot or no pilot.


#14

Probably so. The team of Mexican officials boarding at the dock is usually much larger than the tug crew. There are dozens of forms in Spanish which I must sign by hand in front of the officials. Who knows what the forms say. They love reams of useless paperwork. The crew is encouraged to go ashore and spend money.


#15

Not exactly.


#16

Off the top of my head I would have said it was combined tonnage also but it isn’t:

“(3) An individual holding a valid license or MMC officer endorsement as master, mate, or operator employed aboard a vessel within the restrictions of his or her credential, may serve as pilot on a tank barge or tank barges totaling not more than 10,000 GRT/GT


#17

Is it free choice between GRT and GT, whichever is largest?


#18

So for an ATB this would apply, correct?

§ 15.812 Pilots.

(a) Except as specified in paragraph (f) of this section, the following vessels, not sailing on register, when underway on the navigable waters of the United States, must be under the direction and control of an individual qualified to serve as pilot under paragraph (b) or © of this section, as appropriate:

(1)Coastwise seagoing vessels propelled by machinery and subject to inspection under 46 U.S.C. Chapter 33, and coastwise seagoing tank barges subject to inspection under 46 U.S.C. Chapter 37.

(2) Vessels that are not authorized by their COI to proceed beyond the Boundary Line established in part 7 of this chapter, are in excess of 1,600 GRT propelled by machinery, and are subject to inspection under 46 U.S.C. Chapter 33.

(3) Vessels operating on the Great Lakes, that are propelled by machinery and subject to inspection under 46 U.S.C. Chapter 33, or are tank barges subject to inspection under 46 U.S.C. Chapter 37.

(b) The following individuals may serve as a pilot on a vessel subject to paragraph (a) of this section, when underway on the navigable waters of the United States that are designated areas:

(1) An individual holding a valid first-class pilot’s license or MMC officer endorsement as first-class pilot, operating within the restrictions of his or her credential, may serve as pilot on any vessel to which this section applies.


#19

No. I already quoted the relevant section.

Edit: yes that applies but that has nothing to do with the current discussion


#20

Under what U.S.C. are the barges subject to? Not 46 U.S.C. Chapter 37? Or is that not the issue?