Imágenes de páginas





Pilots are commissioned officers, and in that capacity are employed for either a general or special service. Their duties, as professional nautical experts, are many and various; such as taking charge of the helm of ship; keeping her on her proper course; bringing her safely to anchor in the harbor; there, securely mooring or making her fast to the wharf.

If a pilot be employed for a voyage, then he may be deemed or designated a general pilot; but not necessarily serving under a commission or giving bond, as he may be shipped for that special service, as the able seamen, and other mariners are shipped for their respective grades and stations.

But if a pilot be taken on board at sea, or in the bay, merely for the purpose of conducting a single ship into a particular port or harbor, then he may be deemed and designated a special local or branch pilot. Such a pilot is empowered to act by virtue of a commission, issued to him by the local authorities, specifically defining his rights, duties, and privileges. By the express terms of his warrant or commission, he is ordinarily confined to his own pilotage ground, or designated district; and, generally, not permitted or allowed to encroach upon the territorial jurisdiction



or pilotage ground of another commissioned or branch pilot.

At the present time, the services of general pilots are in greater demand than they formerly were, in consequence of the increased number of ocean steamers, which employ such officers, to a limited extent, under special contracts.

There has been occasional discussion in Massachusetts as to the expediency and necessity of appointing by commission or warrant, general or bay pilots; and now by $ 3, ch. 52, of the General Statutes, such discussion has permanently assumed the form of practical legislation.

But the legal questions which have been raised in the United States concerning pilotage are few; and affect chiefly the services rendered or tendered by the local pilots, on their own pilotage ground, and within their own particular districts. But in England, many such cases are to be found in the recent reports concerning compulsory pilotage, growing out of more modern English legislation.

In England, pilots are commissioned for the purpose of conducting vessels up

and down the Thames, Medway, and other principal rivers, and in and out of Liverpool. Many legislative acts, since the 3 Geo. I., ch. 13, have been passed for the government and protection of pilots in their calling and profession ; but the 6 Geo. IV., ch. 125, consolidated the laws regulating pilots and pilotage, and repealed the former statutes upon the subject. This last act, however, was amended by the 9 Geo. IV., ch. 86; and also by 3 & 4 Vict. ch. 68. At the present time, provision is made formally for what is termed compulsory pilotage; and the recent Admiralty Reports



contain several cases upon that subject. One of the latest is the case of the Beta (Br. & Lush. 328), which relates to a pilot's license. In the same reports another case may be found relating to compulsory pilotage, Br. & Lush. 199, The Stettin; also in Lush. 17, The Temora; ibid. 164, The Earl of Auckland ; ibid. 202, The Killarney; S. C. ibid. 427; ibid. 268, The Wesley ; ibid. 295, The Annapolis; Swab. 9, The Gen. de Caen ; ibid. 69, The Mobile; 1 Spinks, 19, The Hoedwig; ibid. 106, The Persia.

There are other English cases of an older date, touching the employment, responsibility, remuneration of a professional pilot, and the master's control of his ship, when a pilot is in charge. Such are The Nelson, 6 Ch. Rob. 231; The Bee, 2 Dods. 498; The Gen. Palmer, 2 Hagg. 179; The Enterprise, ibid. 178 n; The Christiana, ibid. 188; and The Ada, ibid. 326; also The Frederick, 1 W. Rob. 17; The Maria, ibid. 110; The Girolimo, 3 Hagg. 177 et seq., in which Sir John Nicholl reviews the previous British legislation and defines a master's duty; and The Duke of Manchester, 10 Jur. 865, and 2 W. Rob. 479, in which it was held to be a master's duty to look after a pilot, if drunk or otherwise incompetent, and not to blindly follow the orders of a pilot, unfit for duty or his station.

In the United States, prior to the adoption of the Constitution in 1789, States bordering on the Atlantic coast had enacted laws regulating pilots and pilotage. The power to regulate commerce, upon the ratification of the Constitution, was expressly vested in Congress ; and that body would then seem to have exclusive jurisdiction over the whole subject of pilotage: but it wisely forbore to exercise such general jurisdiction; and in


fact so legislated, as to leave the existing State legislation to be applied, modified, or amended by the States themselves, thus delegating, voluntarily and formally, the power and jurisdiction of Congress to the legislatures of the several States, until otherwise provided.

Section 4, act of August 7, 1789, was the earliest Congressional legislation upon the subject and is as follows:

“ All pilots in the bays, inlets, rivers, harbors, and ports of the United States, shall continue to be regu lated in conformity with the existing laws of the States, respectively, wherein such pilots may be, or by such laws as the States may respectively hereafter enact for the purpose, until further legislative provision shall be made by Congress. 1 U. S. Sts. at Large, 54.

Although Congress did not totally divest itself of its rightful jurisdiction over this subject, nor delegate its power permanently to the States, but tacitly and impliedly reserved the right to resume its original jurisdiction, yet the rights and power of Congress remained in abeyance, for forty-eight years, before that body, as a legislature, saw fit to resume the exercise of its jurisdiction again, over the subject of pilotage. Accordingly, in 1837, March 2, Congress passed the following, as § 1 of the act of that date :

“ It shall and may be lawful for the master or commander of any vessel coming into, or going out of any port, situate upon waters which are the boundary between two States, to employ any pilot, duly licensed or authorized by the laws of either of the States, bounded on the said waters, to pilot said vessel to or from said port; any law, usage, or custom, to the contrary notwithstanding.” 5 U. S. Sts. at Large, § 1, p. 153.



Another respite or self-imposed abnegation, on the part of Congress, followed this enactment; and continued until 1866, when that body of legislators again, for the third time, exercised its legislative power over the subject of pilotage, and enacted as follows:-

“No regulations shall be adopted by any State, which shall make any discrimination, in the rate of pilotage, between vessels sailing between the ports of different States; or any discrimination against steam vessels or national vessels.” And all existing regulations or provisions, making any such discrimination, were annulled and abrogated. U. S. Act of July 13, 1866, 14th vol. Sts. at Large, p. 93.

Thus the United States Congress has pursued a course of legislation, under the Constitution, sedulously systematic; seemingly yielding to local convenience, but never permanently parting with any portion of its high prerogative as a national legislature.

While, on the one hand, it properly deferred to the more accurate and better knowledge of the citizens of a State as to its local wants and the exigencies of its peculiar shipping interest, commerce, and trade, foreign or coastwise; yet, on the other hand, this august body has steadily retained and periodically affirmed its own political and legislative powers and privileges. This policy was strikingly manifested,

First, by the early authentic and voluntary act of Congress, in clothing the respective States with its own inherent and conceded power over pilots and pilotage.

Second, by continuing such transfer of its power to the States, for a period of nearly fifty years, without interruption; and then resuming and exercising its own right, only for the purpose of relieving masters from

« AnteriorContinuar »