Pilot is a nautical term that has its roots in ancient Phoenician maritime history.
The pilot is the chief person duly qualified to steer ships into or out of a harbor or through certain difficult waters.
His familiarity with the water he is traversing allows the ship to be safely navigated to its port. Pilots are in command of large
ocean-going commercial ships such as tankers, passenger, container and general cargo ships.
The United States Supreme Court summarized the pilot's job in an 1851 opinion:
A pilot, so far as respects the navigation of the
vessel in that part of the voyage which is his pilotage ground, is the temporary master charged
with the safety of the vessel and cargo, and of the lives of those on board, and instructed with the command of the crew.
As clearly as the Supreme Court spoke in 1851, it was not the first governmental body to extol l the importance of pilots.
The King of England sought regulation when Maryland was a colony and the first Maryland legislative session regulated pilots as one of its first acts.
Who are the Maryland Pilots and why are they important?
The commercial ships the Maryland Pilots navigate can be longer than three football fields, and are powered by massive engines that consume tons of dense fuel oil.
Tugboat near Fort McHenry