Want to ask a question? Click here

What determines which ships going to the Port of Wilmington have to use a river pilot?

Ken Little

Federal regulations say that all “coastwise seagoing vessels propelled by machinery and subject to inspection” must be under the direction of a qualified pilot, along with vessels “not authorized by their certificate of inspection to proceed beyond (a specified) boundary line which are in excess of 1,600 tons, propelled by machinery and subject to inspection.”

In more understandable terms, that means: “Every freighter, every big ship you see coming in this port has got a pilot in it,” says Scott Aldridge, river pilot and president of the Cape Fear River Pilots Association.

There are seven river pilots working the Cape Fear River. Aldridge said in 2008, there were 650 ship arrivals, or 1,300 “moves” up and down the river requiring the services of a pilot. That averages out to 185 moves a year per pilot.

Some inland tugs and barges coming into the river are not required to have pilots, Aldridge says, along with seagoing tugs whose masters have piloting certification for the Cape Fear River.

User-contributed question by:

Got a comment about this post or know more about the answer? Click here to let us know!

Bookmark and Share

2 Responses to “ What determines which ships going to the Port of Wilmington have to use a river pilot?”

  1. On October 21, 2009 at 9:44 pm Tony McNeill wrote:

    The state regulated pilots have 7 pilots for foreign flag and US reigistered vessels making port calls in Wilmington. There is another pilot for US coastwise and military vessels. Southport Federal Pilot Inc. is an independent pilotage business that guides vessels to a from the Port of Wilmington on the Cape Fear River. http://www.southportfederalpilots.com

  2. On October 22, 2009 at 3:57 pm Tony McNeill wrote:

    Foreign Flag vessels and US vessels sailing under register ( Engaged in foreign trade ) and are over 60 gross tons require the service of the State Pilots. US flagged coastwise vessels under 10,000 gross tons in which someone onboard has 12 recenct round trips on the river are not required to take a pilot but often do for safety or company regulations. Any US flagged coastwise vessel over 10,000 gross tons must have on board someone who holds an Unlimited First Class Pilotage License for the Cape Fear River. Therefore the shipping company can choose between the State Pilots Association or the Federal Pilot group for these vessels.

Ask a question

Ask a question

If you’re looking for answers about living in coastal North Carolina, you’ve come to the right place. If we don’t have the answer to your question, we’ll find out or try to find someone who does. Hey, that’s our job! So, ask your question below and we’ll do our best to find the answer. Once we do, we’ll post it in an appropriate category.

Can we use your name to credit you by name (no e-mail or other contact information) with this question when we post an answer?
Your question:

Post a comment

Talk to us!

Have a comment about this post or know more about the answer? Use this form to let us know. Note that all comments are moderated and must be approved before they are posted, although you may see your own comments the first time you post them.

Your comment: