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U.S. Coast Guard Requirements (General, Sea Service, Training & Other) for National First Class Pilot

first class pilot uscg

The National First Class Pilot License or First Class Pilotage Endorsement allows its holder to serve as pilot on the route(s) specified on the endorsement, subject to any limitation of tonnage, type of vessel, route or waters. The pilot's license issued by the U.S. Coast Guard is not for flying any aircraft. The license is used for pilotaging - an activity of brining commercial ships and other vessels such as tugs and barges through or across the licensed waters or into the harbor.

Coast Guard regulations impose more detailed requirements for obtaining a pilotage license, including - experience aboard a vessel in some capacity in the deck department, a small number of roundtrips of the pilotage area for which a license is sought, chart Sketch etc.

Also for most tank barges subject to the federal pilotage requirement, the U.S. Coast Guard has a mechanism by which the pilotage requirement can be satisfied by a member of the crew who does not possess a federal pilot license but is authorized to serve as‖ a pilot, provided the crewmember completes a small number of roundtrips of a pilotage area.

pilotaging harbor

First Class Pilot accompanies vessels while they enter or leave port to ensure safe navigation of entrance and departure.


USCG First Class Pilot General Requirements

  • Age: 21
  • TWIC
  • Medical Certificate
  • Drug compliance
  • Sea service letters or discharges

USCG First Class Pilotage Endorsement Requirements

Sea Service Requirements

  • Recency: 90 days sea service in the past 3 years on vessels
  • General Routes (routes not restricted to rivers, canals or small lakes): 1080 days of service in the deck department, OF WHICH 540 days of service must be as quartermaster, wheelsman, AB, apprentice NVIC 02-14 pilot or equivalent capacity standing regular watches at the wheel / in the pilothouse OR performing bridge watchkeeping duties under the supervision of the master or a qualified officer. AND 360 days of the 540 days of service must be on vessels operating on the class of waters for which the pilotage is desired, OR
  • River Routes: At least 1080 days in the deck department, OF WHICH 360 days service on vessels operating on the waters of rivers while the applicant is serving in the capacity of quartermaster, wheelsman, AB, apprentice pilot or equivalent capacity standing regular watches at the wheel as part of routine duties. OR
  • Canal and Small Lakes Routes: At least 720 days in the deck department, OF WHICH 240 days service on vessels operating on canals or small lakes, OR
  • Graduate of Great Lakes Maritime Academy in the deck class meets the service requirements of this section for an endorsement as FCP on the Great Lakes, OR
  • Completion of an approved or accepted pilot training course may be substituted for a portion of the service requirements of this section in accordance with 10.404 of this subchapter ADDITIONALLY Roundtrips made during this training may apply toward the route familiarization requirements of 11.705 of this subpart, AND An individual using substituted service must have at least 270 days of shipboard service, OR
  • Master or Mates with Officer Endorsements of more than 1600 GRT meet the service requirement of this section (roundtrips still apply)

Original Endorsement

  • Completion of minimum 12 round trips and maximum 20 round trips: As quartermaster, wheelsman, AB, apprentice pilot or equivalent capacity standing regular watches at the wheel or in the pilothouse as part of routine duties over the route sought, AND/OR
  • As an observer, properly certified by the master and/or pilot of the vessel, AND 25% of the round trips must be during the hours of darkness, AND One of the required round trips must be within 6 months of date of application

Subsequent Endorsement

  • Completion of minimum of 8 round trips and a maximum of 15 round trips, AND 25% of the round trips must be during the hours of darkness, AND One of the required round trips must be within 6 months of date of application

Tonnage Requirements

  • Unlimited Tonnage: 540 days of service as master, mate, quartermaster, wheelsman, AB, apprentice pilot or equivalent capacity standing regular watches at the wheel or in the pilothouse as part of routine duties on vessels 1600 GRT or more AND 2/3 of the minimum number of round trips over the route sought has been on vessels 1600 GRT or more
  • Limited Tonnage: If an onedoes not have sufficient experience (540 days) on vessels of 1,600 GRT /3,000 GT or more, the endorsement will be for limited tonnage until the applicant completes a number of additional roundtrips, as determined by the OCMI, within the range contained in 11.705(b) or (c), as appropriate on vessels over 1,600 GRT / 3,000 GT
  • Note (1): The combined gross tonnage of the towing vessels and the vessels towed will be considered. However, the tonnage and trips are to be determined by the Coast Guard (local OCMI until otherwise directed) or the endorsement may be restricted to Tug and Barge combination.
  • Note (2): A license or MMC endorsement issued for service as master, mate, or operator of uninspected towing vessels authorizes service as a pilot under the provisions of 15.812 of this subchapter. Therefore, first class pilot endorsements will not be issued with tonnage limitations of 1600 GRT or less.

Other Requirements

  • First Aid
  • CPR
  • RADAR, if applicable and not previously met

Disclaimer: For general information purpose - please check with USCG for the latest requirements and accurate info

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