Do supply boats need to take Pilots?

What are the requirements for OSV and the use of pilots when engaged in Coastwise trade? Some years ago I remember reading that they were port specific exemptions for OSV’s (maybe termed as energy support?) for OSV’s for Venice, Fourchon and Galveston. I’ve also heard that there is a blanket exemption for OSV’s regardless of Port. Can anyone tell me definitively what the law is and hopefully point me to the CFR, US Code or (maybe MSIB?) so I can read it in black and white? TIA

I would start with NVIC 8-94 and contact the LA state pilots and ask. It will depend on tonngage and the endorsement on the Certificate of Documentation.

That is definitely incorrect.

It depends on tonnage, but if the OSV is over 1600 tons, it will most likely require a pilot.

Take with a grain of salt.

While not on Supply Boats, my experience with this question has sent me to 46 CFR 15.810 Acting as Pilot provision and NVIC 8-94.

Once completing the requirements specified in the documents, I have asked the company, based on waters and vessel tonnage below 1600 ton, add the following statement to my sea letters “Serves as Acting Pilot in accordance with 46 CFR 15.812 (b) (2)”. This was done as a ripple effect from the grounding of the Empress of North investigation.

Not sure if changed, but if US flag can take a federal pilot - of which I am sure most of the Captains of these boats have their federal pilotage for their normal runs

I only ever met one that did.


Hell, a good many of the ones I’ve sailed with probably would have trouble spelling “Federal Pilotage,” much less pass the exams for pilotage. Seriously though… no. @Capt_Phoenix has met one more than I have in the 19 years I’ve worked for one of the “big three” OSV companies.


In Port Hueneme CA, Tidewater used to have OSVs there. They were older boats under 300 grt which made them exempt from the pilotage requirement for that port. Towards the end of their long term contract there they had boats over 300 grt (a modest upgrade required by the client) but under 1600 grt and for each transit the client was paying some fee to the pilots to enable the exemption.

TDW was pushing their bridge officers to get their ride-a-longs done so they could get their pilotage and as far as i know only one of the captains did it because of course there was little incentive pay wise to do the ride-a-longs on your time off and sit for the test.

When i was working for them we went up to SF bay/alameda for our shipyard period and Vessel Traffic scolded us on not ordering a pilot so we were delayed on our arrival. I forget what SF pilots requirements were but it was different than Port Hueneme.

ha - made me laugh - I stand corrected all !!