The USCG has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), requiring vessels engaged in foreign trade on the navigable waterways within the State of Maryland
to be under the direction and control of federally-licensed pilots, when not under the control and direction of state-licensed pilots.
Maryland law requires every foreign vessel and every domestic vessel sailing under register use a state-licensed pilot, except when the vessel is under the control of a docking master while maneuvering with tug assistance during docking or undocking, or shifting within the port. However, the state does not license or regulate the competency of docking masters.
The USCG is proposing this rule to ensure any person providing pilotage is operating under the authority of either a valid state or federal pilot license, and is adequately accountable for his/her actions. Traditionally, docking masters hold federal pilot licenses as a condition of their employment.