The Tampa Bay Pilots Association is an association of comprised of 20 highly-skilled and highly-trained harbor pilots that service the ports of Tampa Bay, specifically, Tampa, Manatee and St. Petersburg.
Tampa Bay Pilots Association of state-regulated and licensed harbor pilots have been taking navigational control of foreign flagged cargo and cruise ships and directing their movement into and out of Tampa Bay since 1886. .
Tampa Bay Harbor Pilots possess intimate local knowledge of their ports and are specially trained in ship handling in narrow channels. Harbor pilots assist local, state and federal authorities with seaport development, new ship operations and port security.
Tampa Bay Harbor Pilots are the watchdogs for the numerous foreign flagged cargo and cruise ships coming in and out of Tampa Bay, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Without harbor pilots, the lives and safety of the people of Florida and the protection of the state’s ports and coastal environment would be at risk.
The vast majority of Harbor Pilots currently licensed by the State of Florida have graduated from a four-year federal or state maritime academy, which are equivalent to the nation’s military academies, demanding a high level of scholastic performance in a military environment. A graduate of one of these maritime academies earns a bachelor’s degree and a U.S. Coast Guard license as a deck officer-third mate unlimited. The typical state pilot then leaves his or her family and goes to sea, serving on ocean-going vessels for 10-12 years, working their way up through increasing levels of responsibility, until the vast majority advance their license to an unlimited master and also sail in command of oceangoing ships.
Pilot fees are set by the Pilotage Rate Review Committee, whose members sit on the full Board of Pilotage Commissioners. All members are appointed by the Governor.
The most dangerous time for harbor pilots is transferring to or from the pilot boat on a rope ladder. In a rash of deaths between January 2006 and February 2007, four U.S. pilots and a pilot boat operator were killed during transfers.