pilot. 1. A person in control of an airplane. 2.Maritime law. A person in control of a vessel.

compulsory pilot. A ship pilot entitled by law to guide a ship for a particular purpose, such as piloting the ship into harbor. • The compulsory nature of the appointment relieves the vessel’s owner of personal liability if the pilot causes a collision. Cf. voluntary pilot. [Cases: Pilots  7. C.J.S. Pilots of Vessels § 8.]

“The compulsory pilot presents a special problem. Statutes that impose a fine or imprisonment for the failure to take a pilot obviously create compulsory pilotage. Some statutes, however, allow the ship to refuse the pilot provided she pays his fee or half of it (‘half-pilotage’). The Supreme Court has indicated that it does not regard the tendering of this alternative as amounting to compulsion. It makes a difference, because it is pretty well settled that if the pilotage is ‘compulsory’ the respondeat superior nexus is broken, and the shipowner cannot be held personally liable for the fault of the pilot resulting in collision. The ship’s liability in rem, however, is unaffected by the fact that the pilotage is compulsory. This is one of the more striking consequences of the endowment of the ship with a juristic personality independent of that of her owner.” Grant Gilmore & Charles L. Black Jr., The Law of Admiralty § 7-16, at 520–21 (2d ed. 1975).

voluntary pilot. A ship pilot who controls a ship with the permission of the vessel’s owner. • The vessel’s owner is personally liable for damage resulting from a collision caused by a voluntary pilot. Cf. compulsory pilot. [Cases: Pilots  7. C.J.S. Pilots of Vessels § 8.]

“If a vessel is in the hands of a harbor pilot at the time of the collision, the question arises whether the fault of the pilot is imputed to the vessel owner or operator. American law draws an unwarranted distinction between the ‘voluntary pilot,’ who is taken on voluntarily, and the ‘compulsory pilot,’ who is mandated by a statute or local regulation. The voluntary pilot is considered to be the same as any crew member, and his fault is fully attributable to the vessel owner. A compulsory pilot’s fault, however, cannot be imputed to the shipowner personally; the doctrine of respondeat superior does not apply. At most, the vessel is liable in rem since the compulsory pilot’s negligence is attributable to the ship. The distinction makes little sense in that it throws the loss upon potentially innocent parties and ignores the fact that the vessel owner commonly carries insurance against this liability. In any collision case, therefore, care should be taken to assert a maritime lien and to sue the vessel in rem if a compulsory pilot may be involved.” Thomas J. Schoenbaum, Admiralty and Maritime Law § 1-31, at 450–51 (1987).

[Blacks Law 8th]