Pilots with local knowledge have been employed on board ships for centuries to guide vessels into or out of port safely - or wherever navigation may be considered hazardous, particularly when a shipmaster is unfamiliar with the area.

In addition to local knowledge and expertise, pilots are able to provide effective communication with the shore and with tugs, often in the local language.

Qualified pilots are usually employed by the local port or maritime administration and provide their services to ships for a fee, calculated in relation to the ship's tonnage, draught or other criteria.

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