1976 South Carolina Code of Laws
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Updated through the end of the 2005 Regular Session


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This statutory database is current through the 2005 Regular Session of the South Carolina General Assembly. Changes to the statutes enacted by the 2006 General Assembly, which will convene in January 2006, will be incorporated as soon as possible. Some changes enacted by the 2006 General Assembly may take immediate effect. The State of South Carolina and the South Carolina Legislative Council make no warranty as to the accuracy of the data, or changes which may have been enacted since the 2005 Regular Session or which took effect after this database was prepared and users rely on the data entirely at their own risk.



Title 54 - Ports and Maritime Matters
CHAPTER 15.

PILOTS AND PILOTAGE

SECTION 54-15-10. Commissioners of pilotage for ports of Georgetown, Little River and Port Royal; appointment; terms; vacancies.

The commissioners of pilotage for the ports of Georgetown, Little River in Horry County, and Port Royal must be appointed by the Governor, upon the recommendation of a majority of the legislative delegation of the county in which the port is located, and shall serve for two years and until their successors are appointed and qualify. Vacancies must be filled in the manner of the original appointment for the unexpired term.

Beginning February 1, 1995, at the expiration of the terms of the members of the Georgetown Pilotage Commission, the terms of the commissioners appointed initially thereafter shall be staggered, two shall serve for three years, two shall serve for two years, and two shall serve for one year. Provided, however, that at the expiration of these terms, commissioners shall be appointed to two-year terms.

In Georgetown County, appointments made pursuant to this section are governed by the provisions of Act 515 of 1996.

SECTION 54-15-20. Number and qualifications of commissioners for Georgetown, Little River and Port Royal.

The commissioners of pilotage of Little River consist of three persons, two of whom are or have been seafaring men and one of whom is a full branch pilot of the port of Little River.

The commissioners of pilotage of Georgetown consist of six persons appointed as provided by Section 54-15-10, two of whom are or have been seafaring men. The director of the port of Georgetown is a member ex officio.

The commissioners of pilotage of Port Royal consist of five persons. They have jurisdiction over St. Helena, Port Royal, Calibogue Sound, and the South Carolina side of the Savannah River.

SECTION 54-15-30. Officers of Georgetown commissioners of pilotage.

The board of commissioners of pilotage for the port of Georgetown shall, from time to time, elect from among its body a chairman and a secretary. Such officers shall serve until their successors have been duly elected by the board of commissioners of pilotage. But no branch or licensed pilot for the port of Georgetown shall be elected or serve as chairman of such board.

SECTION 54-15-40. Commissioners of pilotage for port of Charleston; appointment; terms; vacancies.

There is created the Commissioners of Pilotage for the Port of Charleston composed of six members one of whom is the chairman of the South Carolina State Ports Authority, ex officio, one of whom is the president of the International Longshoremen's Association Local 1422 or his designee, ex officio, and one of whom is a pilot licensed for the port of Charleston under Sections 54-15-120 and 54-15-130, appointed by the Governor. The remaining members are appointed by the Governor upon the recommendation of the Charleston County Legislative Delegation from lists of nominations for the offices submitted to the delegation by the Greater Charleston Chamber of Commerce, the Maritime Association of the port of Charleston, and the Propeller Club of the port of Charleston. The terms of office of the commissioners are for three years and until their successors are appointed and qualified, except that of the members first appointed, one shall serve for one year, one shall serve for two years, and one shall serve for three years. The member representative of the pilots licensed under Sections 54-15-120 and 54-15-130 has a three-year term. In the event of a vacancy, however caused, a successor must be appointed in the manner of the original appointment for the unexpired term. The above appointments must be made as each term of the present commissioners expires.

SECTION 54-15-50. Boards of examination for Georgetown and Little River.

The commissioners of pilotage for the ports of Georgetown and Little River shall, from time to time, organize a board of examination for the port to which they belong, to consist of three nautical men, at least one of whom shall be a full branch pilot of the port to which they belong. Each such board shall examine all applicants as to their competency to work or manage vessels and, generally, to discharge the duties of a pilot. No license or branch shall be granted to any person unless he receives a certificate of competency signed by a majority of such examining board.

SECTION 54-15-60. Board of examiners for Charleston.

(A) The commissioners of pilotage for the port of Charleston shall organize a board of examiners for the port of three nautical men, at least one of whom must be licensed for the port under Sections 54-15-120 and 54-15-130. No one is eligible for examination by the board of examiners until he satisfactorily completes his apprenticeship for the port.

(B) The board of examiners shall examine eligible applicants as to their competency to work or manage vessels and generally to discharge the duties of a pilot. Examinations for license are oral, written, and by demonstration and include the following requisites:

(1) rules of the road;

(2) use of a compass;

(3) set of currents;

(4) boarding of vessels in heavy weather;

(5) bearings of noted objects, numbers, shapes, and colors of buoys;

(6) use of the sextant;

(7) other matters the commissioners of pilotage for the port include in the examination.

(C) No license or branch may be granted to a person unless he has received a certificate of his competency signed by a majority of the board of examiners.

SECTION 54-15-70. Board of examiners for Port Royal.

The commissioners of pilotage for the port of Port Royal shall, from time to time, organize a board of examiners for the port of Port Royal, to consist of three nautical men, at least one of whom shall be a full branch pilot of the port. No one shall be eligible for examination by the board of examiners until he has satisfactorily completed his apprenticeship and has been recommended by a majority of the full branch pilots. The board of examiners shall examine all such eligible and recommended applicants as to their competency to work or manage vessels and generally to discharge the duties of a pilot. All examinations for license shall be oral and written and by demonstration and shall include among other things the following requisites: The rules of the road, the use of compass, the set of currents, the boarding of vessels in heavy weather, bearings of noted objects, numbers, shapes and colors of buoys, and such other matters as the commissioners of pilotage for the port of Port Royal shall require to be included in such examination. No license or branch shall be granted to any person unless he has received a certificate of his competency signed by the majority of the board of examiners.

SECTION 54-15-80. Examination fee.

The commissioners of pilotage for each port shall set by regulation a fee calculated to defray the expenses of examination, licensing, and issuing any certification under Chapter 15 of Title 54.

SECTION 54-15-90. Apprentices for ports other than Charleston.

Apprentices for ports other than Charleston, which are governed by Sections 54-15-100 and 54-15-120, must be taken by full branch pilots only with the approval of the respective boards of commissioners of pilotage and shall serve two years in Georgetown and one year in Port Royal before receiving an initial short branch license. An apprentice must be taken on board vessels of every description so that the apprentice may become completely competent to discharge required duties. After holding an initial short branch license for one year, an apprentice shall receive a second branch license, which the apprentice must hold in service for one year, at the end of which the apprentice may receive a full branch or license. The commissioners of pilotage for the ports of Georgetown and Port Royal jointly shall establish in regulation the tonnage and draft restrictions for each short branch license.

SECTION 54-15-100. Apprentices for Charleston.

Apprentices for the Port of Charleston are taken only by pilots licensed under Sections 54-15-120 and 54-15-130 for the port and must be approved and certified by the commissioners of pilotage for the port. They must not be under eighteen years of age, must be a graduate of an accredited four-year college or shall hold an unlimited ocean third mate's license, must have 20-20 visual acuity uncorrected or corrected by contact lens, must have good color vision evidenced by ability to distinguish colors by means of a test accepted by the United States Coast Guard, must have good natural hearing, and must have other physical and mental qualifications required by the commissioners of pilotage for the port. Satisfactory certificates of the requirements of this section must be filed with the commissioners of pilotage for the port before the applicant may be accepted as an apprentice.

SECTION 54-15-110. Licenses or branches and oath of pilots and apprentices.

The respective boards of pilot commissioners shall give to the applicants approved by them either a limited license or branch or a full license or branch, according as the application and discovered fitness of the applicant shall be, signed by a majority of the commissioners or by its chairman, as the majority of the board may direct, requiring of each applicant, before the delivery to him of such license or branch, to swear and subscribe the following oath, to be administered by the chairman of the commissioners of pilotage:

"I, A B, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will well and faithfully, according to the best of my skill and knowledge, execute and discharge the business and duty of a licensed pilot (or apprentice, as the case may be) for the bar and harbor of Charleston (Port Royal or Georgetown as the case may be); that I will, at all times, wind, weather and health permitting, use my best endeavors to repair on board of all ships and vessels that I shall see and conceive to be bound for, coming into or going out of the port or harbor of Charleston (Port Royal or Georgetown as the case may be), unless I am well assured that some other licensed pilot is then on board any such ship or vessel; and I do further swear (or affirm) that I will from time to time, and at all times, make the best dispatch in my power to convey safely over the bar of Charleston (Port Royal or Georgetown as the case may be) every vessel committed to my care in coming in or going out of the same; that I will, from time to time and at all times, truly observe, follow and fulfill, to the best of my skill, ability and knowledge, all such orders and directions as I shall or may receive from the commissioners of pilotage relative to all matters and things that may appertain to the duty of a pilot. So help me God."

SECTION 54-15-120. Prerequisites to licensing in Charleston.

(A) An apprentice in the port of Charleston shall serve three years before being eligible to take an examination for the initial short branch license. During an apprenticeship licensed pilots shall take an apprentice on board all types of vessels, so that the apprentice may become thoroughly competent for the discharge of piloting duties. An apprentice successively shall hold a:

(1) first branch license with a tonnage restriction in service six months before being eligible to take an examination for the second branch license;

(2) second branch license with no tonnage restriction in service six months before being eligible for the third branch license;

(3) the third branch license in service one year before being eligible to take an examination for the fourth branch license;

(4) fourth branch license in service one year before being eligible to take an examination for a full license or branch.

The commissioners of pilotage for the port of Charleston shall establish in regulation the tonnages and draft restrictions for each short branch license.

(B) In determining qualifications for apprentices the commissioners of pilotage may consider previous maritime experience in the port as defined by regulation. No apprentice, however, may be granted a license until the number of pilots falls below the number set by the commissioners of pilotage for the port through regulations promulgated in accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act.

(C) If two or more apprentices are eligible to offer for examination at the same time, the seniority of securing a license must be determined by the proficiency of the respective apprentices, established at the examination.

(D) In accordance with regulations promulgated by the commissioners of pilotage for the port, apprentices for the port may be granted emergency or temporary licenses if necessary.

SECTION 54-15-130. Number of pilots limited.

The number of pilots for the bar and harbor of Charleston may not exceed the number set by the commissioners of pilotage for the port of Charleston through regulations promulgated in accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act. The number of pilots for the port of Port Royal is limited to twelve and for the bar and harbor of Georgetown to three, with power to the commissioners of pilotage to increase the number for the port of Port Royal to fifteen and for Georgetown to five, if in their judgment the commerce of either port requires the increase. The number of pilots for the other ports must be fixed by the commissioners of pilotage at the ports. However, the limit in number does not exclude a pilot who holds a regularly issued license. The board shall make no distinction in the selection of pilots on account of race, color, or previous condition.

SECTION 54-15-140. Board may prescribe orders and regulations; suspension or revocation of license for noncompliance.

The commissioners of pilotage for the port to which they belong shall promulgate regulations in accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act for the administration of pilotage within that port. The regulations must include, but are not limited to:

(1) the selection, training, and licensure of apprentice pilots;

(2) the licensure and registration of pilots;

(3) license and registration fees;

(4) safe vessel movement;

(5) reports of marine casualties and other dangerous situations;

(6) discipline, including investigations and the suspension and revocation of pilot licenses;

(7) pilotage charges and fees;

(8) geographic areas of commissioners' jurisdiction;

(9) other matters affecting the safe and efficient administration of pilotage.

SECTION 54-15-150. Registers of pilots.

The commissioners of pilotage for each port shall register all licensed pilots for their respective ports with such necessary data to be shown on such register as the commissioners may deem necessary and appropriate and keep such register up to date, making such changes or alterations as may take place from time to time.

SECTION 54-15-160. Pilot ground for Charleston.

The pilot ground of the bar of Charleston shall extend from the bar thirty miles eastward, southward and northward. Pilot boats shall normally cruise in an area designated by the commissioners of pilotage.

SECTION 54-15-170. Pilot boats at Charleston shall be approved by commissioners.

All boats used in the pilotage for the port and harbor of Charleston shall be entirely and absolutely subject to the inspection, direction and approval of the commissioners of pilotage for the port of Charleston.

SECTION 54-15-180. Repealed by 1991 Act No. 56, Section 5.

SECTION 54-15-190. Boats at Charleston shall be used for pilotage only; method of identification.

All boats used for pilotage at Charleston shall be used exclusively for pilotage, except that the commissioners of pilotage for the port of Charleston may grant temporary permission for such other uses as they deem appropriate. To establish their identity, all pilot boats shall fly the international code flag P by day and regulation pilot boat lights by night.

SECTION 54-15-200. Repealed by 1991 Act No. 56, Section 6.

SECTION 54-15-210. Pilots shall not discontinue duties without permission.

Except for reasons of health, satisfactory evidence of which shall be furnished to the commissioners of pilotage when requested, no licensed pilot or apprentice shall discontinue to act as such nor absent himself at any time from the port and harbor to which he may belong for any period of time whatsoever without first obtaining the permission of the group of pilots with whom he is associated or some duly authorized official of that group, and no such permitted discontinuance or absence for a period of more than one month shall be valid without additionally obtaining in advance the written authorization of the commissioners of pilotage. Any pilot or apprentice neglecting or refusing to comply with such requirement as to his presence and performance of duties in the port to which he belongs, may have, respectively, his license or his apprenticeship, as the case may be, either suspended or revoked by the commissioners of pilotage, depending on their judgment of the circumstances.

SECTION 54-15-220. Pilot shall offer services to nearest vessel; exceptions.

Every pilot cruising or standing out to sea shall offer his services first to the vessel nearest the bar unless specifically ordered to the contrary by the duly authorized official of the group of licensed pilots on duty at the time and except when he sees a more distant vessel in distress, in which event he shall aid such vessel in distress, if practicable. Any pilot neglecting or refusing to comply with such requirement as to his services may have his license suspended or revoked by the commissioners of pilotage, depending on their judgment of the circumstances. But nothing herein contained shall extend, or be construed to extend, to vessels of the description mentioned in Section 54-15-260, all of which vessels it shall be the duty of every such pilot to avoid as much as possible, whenever they are known to or justly suspected by him as such.

SECTION 54-15-230. Pilot shall remain on vessel if required.

A licensed pilot, if required by the master or commander of a vessel, shall remain on board while such vessel is at anchor. Any pilot neglecting or refusing to comply with such a request to remain on board may have his license suspended or revoked by the commissioners of pilotage, depending on their judgment of the circumstances.

SECTION 54-15-240. Pilot shall be paid if detained beyond appointed sailing time.

Every master of an outward bound vessel who shall engage a pilot for an appointed time of departure shall have his vessel in readiness for sailing at such time and every master of a vessel who shall detain a pilot beyond the time appointed so that he cannot proceed to sea although wind and weather should permit, shall pay for such detention in accordance with the published schedule of rates and fees provided for under the provisions of Section 54-15-290.

SECTION 54-15-250. Penalty for carrying off pilots.

If any master or commander of a vessel shall carry off any of the pilots he shall allow every such pilot the daily rate specified under the provisions of Section 54-15-290 for each and every day during his absence and supply him with provisions and other necessaries in the same manner as is usual for the maintenance and accommodation of masters of vessels. The master, as well as the owner, consignee and security of such vessel, shall be liable for such sum. But no pilot who is carried off as aforesaid shall be entitled to any of the sums aforesaid if such vessel shall have laid to for the space of sixteen hours after having crossed the bar and no pilot boat shall have appeared at the time to receive such pilot on board. The master, owner or consignee shall defray the expenses of such pilot back to the port to which he may belong.

SECTION 54-15-260. Duty of pilots during war or under special orders.

In case of war no pilot shall bring in or furnish supplies to any armed vessel belonging to an enemy at war with the United States or carry out any armed vessel to such enemy, without being ordered to do so by the constituted authorities of the United States. And every pilot herein in any wise offending shall forfeit his license and be disqualified forever from acting as a pilot. And if at any time the President of the United States or the Governor of the State shall prohibit the furnishing with supplies, or the bringing in or the carrying out of any vessel belonging to any nation or state or to a subject of any nation or state, every pilot shall comply with every such prohibition, on pain of incurring the same penalty and punishment as for like offenses in time of war.

SECTION 54-15-270. All vessels entering ports shall use pilots; exceptions.

All vessels entering into the pilotage area of a port for the purpose of entering such port, except United States vessels engaged in coastwise trade having on board a pilot licensed by the United States Coast Guard for that area and United States vessels under one hundred net registered tons, are required to receive on board for entering into, departing from, or shifting within the port, an amply licensed pilot offering to board.

SECTION 54-15-280. Unauthorized pilotage.

No person shall be authorized or permitted to conduct and pilot any vessel, except those excepted in Section 54-15-270, over the bar, into, out of or within the harbor of any port, unless such person shall be a then currently licensed pilot and no branch pilot shall be authorized to so pilot any vessel with a deeper draft of water than his branch. Any person so prohibited from pilotage who shall presume to pilot vessels in violation of such prohibition, shall be entitled to no fee, gratuity or reward for so doing, shall pay the regular pilotage to the group of associated licensed pilots in the port and shall be subject to a fine of five hundred dollars or imprisonment for not more than thirty days. The foregoing prohibition shall not prevent any person from assisting any vessel in distress provided such person shall deliver up the vessel to the first licensed pilot who shall offer to board.

SECTION 54-15-290. Rates and fees; publication thereof.

All rates and fees for all pilotage services for each port shall be fixed by the commissioners of pilotage for such port and the commissioners shall require the pilots to have printed and made available to all interested parties a published schedule of rates and fees.

SECTION 54-15-300. Board shall examine causes of disaster.

The board of pilotage commissioners on the occasion of any marine disaster to any vessel in charge of a licensed pilot shall make a careful examination of the cause of such disaster, by immediately summoning before it the pilot in charge of the vessel and obtaining such testimony as may be in its power. The result of such investigation shall be placed upon record, copies of which shall be furnished, when desired, at the expense of the applicant. The marine reports of the daily papers, or private information, shall be deemed sufficient cause for such investigation by the board of commissioners.

SECTION 54-15-310. Board may require pilot to surrender license and take out new license.

The boards of commissioners of pilotage may, for any cause or charge to them satisfactorily proven, order and direct any pilot for the port to which they belong to deliver up his license or licenses and to take out a new license or licenses. But no pilot who shall satisfy them of the groundlessness of such cause or the falsity of such charge brought against him shall be required to pay an additional fee for his new license.

SECTION 54-15-320. Suspension or revocation of license for misconduct.

A majority of each of the boards of commissioners of pilotage may take away the license of a pilot for a given time or declare his license null and void, as the nature of the case may demand (a) upon charge of any dereliction of duty made and proven against him, (b) if he be found guilty of using abusive or insulting language or of threatening conduct, while on his business as a pilot or (c) if charges of intoxication or conduct unbecoming a pilot, either when on or off duty, be proved against him to the satisfaction of a majority of the commissioners. But any pilot against whom any charge shall be made shall be entitled to a hearing before the board of commissioners and to make any proper defense to such charge. Any decision by the board to suspend, revoke, or otherwise restrict the license of a pilot shall be subject to review by an Administrative Law Judge as provided under Article 5 of Chapter 23 of Title 1.

SECTION 54-15-330. Enforcing surrender of license.

If any pilot has forfeited or been deprived of his license or is no longer entitled to the use thereof by virtue of any provision of this chapter, the commissioners of pilotage of the port to which he may belong may call on him for the surrender of his license. And if he shall refuse to give up such license to the commissioners of pilotage on demand, they shall give notice for one week in the public daily papers that such person has no longer a right to act as a pilot until he be reinstated by the commissioners of pilotage.

SECTION 54-15-340. Prosecution and collection of fines, forfeitures and penalties.

Each and every fine, forfeiture and penalty, for each and every offense under this chapter, shall be prosecuted, sued for and recovered in any court of competent jurisdiction for the use of the State. The penalties imposed in such provisions may in every case be recovered, although the board of pilotage commissioners may not think proper to deprive any licensed pilot liable thereto or in default of his license in any instance herein authorized.

SECTION 54-15-350. Limit on liability for damages caused by pilots.

A licensed ship's pilot is not liable for damages in excess of five thousand dollars for damages or loss occasioned by the pilot's errors, omissions, fault, or neglect in the performance of pilotage services, except for wilful misconduct or reckless disregard for safety by the pilot.

SECTION 54-15-360. Owners and operators also liable.

When a pilot boards a vessel he becomes a servant of the vessel and its owner and operator. Nothing in this chapter exempts the vessel, its owner, or operator from liability for damage or loss occasioned by the ship to a person or property on the ground that (1) the ship was piloted by a pilot licensed by the State, or (2) the damage or loss was occasioned by the error, omission, fault, or neglect of a pilot licensed by the State.






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