What Is Maritime Pilotage?
The safety of navigation inside territorial waters is a must for any country wanting to protect its environment, its economy, and above all, its population. That is why Malta and most other countries entrust the navigation of commercial ships inside their territorial waters to maritime pilots specially trained to guide ships of any nationality along their waterways.
When vessels call at Maltese ports, pilotage is compulsory for vessels of 500 GT and over, except in cases where ships are legally exempt from pilotage.
How Is Maritime Pilotage Carried Out?
Any ship subject to compulsory pilotage, that enters or leaves the Grand Harbour or the Marsaxlokk Port is boarded by a maritime pilot who will take charge of navigation manoeuvres until in or out of port.
Pilot changes are always a tricky operation, sometimes even dangerous when poor weather conditions come into play. The pilot must get on board using a ladder and climb the hull of the ship. The ascent can sometimes reach up to 10 metres .
Once on board, the pilot makes contact with the captain and the ship’s officers and verifies the ship’s capacity, its specifics, its quality of navigation equipment and other things.
How is Maritime Pilotage administered?
The Ports and Yachting Directorate is responsible for ensuring that the Malta Maritime Pilots Co-operative Society Limited adheres to its contractual obligations as established by the Maritime Pilotage Regulations 2003 and the Agreement entered into between the Authority and the Co-operative. Pilots board vessels at the Pilot Stations located outside Valletta and Marsaxlokk. In bad weather, boarding may be restricted to the harbour entrance.
Regulations governing pilotage in Malta is contained in the SUBSIDIARY LEGISLATION 499.26 – Maritime Pilotage Regulations.