Function / Activity

Port pilots (not to be confused with offshore pilots) are advisors and technical assistants to the captain when a ship enters or leaves the port. They perfectly know the technical features of their dedicated port, how to organise and communicate with the multiple ship services. Besides, they are experts in manoeuvring ships of all sizes. Thus they become the captain’s point of reference during the approach, docking, departure or towing of the ship.

Piloting was made mandatory by maritime nations in order to protect channels and port facilities, as well as to play a part in the safety and policing of navigation.

In accordance with European directives, pilots are required to report any defect they may notice to the port authority, regarding security on and off board.


Introduction to the profession in Marseille-Fos

Pilots have a general interest mission, regulated by the Transport Law (5th part) under the authority of their Ministry. That implies a control by the State on several levels: recruitment, physical abilities, disciplinary system, investments, management…

However, even if the Transport Law acknowledges the pilots’ broad autonomy regarding material management, commitment and execution of the pilot station’s expenses, the pilots’ unions are required to comply with the regulations set by their line ministry and with the establishment of a permanent control by the administration on the facility’s accountancy.

The Marseille-Fos facility employs 42 pilots, 29 sailors, 5 members of the onshore staff, 11 members of the auxiliary staff and 3 members of the maintenance staff.

The construction of Marseille-Fos pilotlines is ensured by the piloting shipyard settled in the heart of the Old Port, aboard the floating pontoon “PHOCEE”.


Future development of the profession

This profession depends on the traffic in ports.