46 U.S. Code Chapter 85 - PILOTS
Chapter 85 provides for State pilotage to be regulated by the States and only in conformity with the laws of the States. It clearly spells out the preeminence of the State’s role in regulating pilots for vessels operating on the bays, rivers, harbors, and ports of the United States. However, those vessels that are required to have a Federally licensed pilot, those that operate on waters outside the territorial sea of the United States, and those that operate on waters of the Great Lakes are not subject to State pilotage laws or requirements. In essence this chapter, with minor changes, confirms the State and Federal relationship with respect to pilotage that has evolved since the founding of the Nation.
This chapter permits the continuation of Federal pilotage requirements for vessels that are not required to obtain compulsory State pilotage. It confirms the practice of allowing anyone with a Federal pilotage endorsement for the waters in which the vessel is operating to be in control of a vessel when engaged in the coastwide trade. It also confirms the practice of using Federal pilots that are often organized into groups or working organizations who offer their expertise and services to vessels that are not required to obtain compulsory State pilotage.