Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 54.1. Professions and Occupations
Chapter 9. Branch Pilots
5/14/2021

Chapter 9. Branch Pilots.

Article 1. Board for Branch Pilots.

§ 54.1-900. Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Board" means the Board for Branch Pilots.

"Branch pilots" means pilots who have qualified and been licensed in accordance with the provisions of § 54.1-905.

"Limited branch pilots" means pilots who have qualified and been licensed in accordance with the provisions of § 54.1-909.

"Pilot" means branch pilot and limited branch pilot.

Code 1950, § 54-525; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-901. Appointment and removal of members; quorum; clerk.

The Board for Branch Pilots shall consist of nine members to be appointed as follows: the Circuit Court of the City of Hampton shall appoint three persons, only one of whom shall be a branch pilot, and the Circuit Court of the City of Norfolk shall appoint four persons, only two of whom shall be branch pilots, and the Circuit Court of the City of Portsmouth shall appoint two persons, only one of whom shall be a branch pilot. The court which appointed a member may remove him for incapacity, neglect of duty or misconduct and may fill the vacancy.

Four members of the Board shall constitute a quorum. The Board shall appoint a clerk, who shall keep a record of the Board's proceedings.

Code 1950, §§ 54-527, 54-528, 54-530, 54-531; 1978, c. 834; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-902. Regulations; suspension or revocation of license; penalty for violation.

A. The Board is authorized to promulgate regulations necessary for the proper government and regulation of pilots and to prescribe penalties for the violation of regulations in accordance with the provisions of the Administrative Process Act (§ 2.2-4000 et seq.). Regulations may include the right to suspend or revoke the branch of any pilot. Such suspension or revocation may be in addition to any other penalty imposed by law for the violation.

Reasonable notice and an opportunity to be heard in accordance with the Administrative Process Act shall be given before the Board shall take any action to revoke or suspend the license of any licensee.

B. The Board may suspend a license of any person without a hearing, simultaneously with the institution of proceedings for a hearing, if it finds that there is substantial danger to the public health or safety which warrants such action. The Board may meet by telephone conference call when summarily suspending a license, if a good faith effort to assemble a quorum of the Board has failed and in the judgment of a majority of the members of the Board, the continued practice of the licensee constitutes a substantial danger to the public health or safety. Institution of proceeding for a hearing shall be provided simultaneously with the summary suspension. The hearing shall be scheduled within a reasonable time of the date of the summary suspension.

C. Before any penalty for violation of the regulations may be imposed, a printed copy of the regulations shall be furnished to each pilot.

Code 1950, § 54-529; 1988, c. 765; 1989, c. 584.

§ 54.1-903. Decisions of controversies between pilots and masters, etc.; judgment of Board.

The Board may decide any controversy between pilots or between a pilot and the master, owner, or consignee of any vessel, which may arise under any law concerning pilots in accordance with the provisions of the Administrative Process Act (§ 2.2-4000 et seq.). If the decision requires the payment of money, the Board shall enter a judgment therefor on the record of its proceedings. When an authorized officer receives a copy of the judgment, he shall enforce the payment as if it were an execution against the property of the debtor.

Code 1950, §§ 54-533, 54-534; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-904. Limitation of powers of Board.

Nothing in this chapter shall authorize the Board to decide upon the liability of a pilot or his apprentice to any person injured by his negligence or misconduct, or to prevent such person from recovering for any damage occasioned thereby.

Code 1950, § 54-535; 1988, c. 765.

Article 2. Examination and Licensure.

§ 54.1-905. Examination of pilots; issuance of license; bonds and oath of office.

Applicants for examination shall submit to the Board a certificate from the circuit court in the county or city of their residence stating that the applicant is of good character and a resident of the Commonwealth. The applicant shall also submit proof that he has served as an apprentice for five years, including three years as a limited branch pilot. If the Board finds the applicant qualified to act as a branch pilot it shall issue him a license, and he shall thereupon become a state officer, to be known as a branch pilot and shall hold office as such for one year next ensuing. Before he may perform any of the duties of his office he shall give bond before the clerk of the circuit court of the county or city in which he resides in the penalty of $500, conditioned for the faithful performance of his duties and he shall take the oath of office required by § 49-1.

Branch pilots may conduct and pilot any vessel.

Code 1950, §§ 54-536, 54-555; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-906. Expiration and renewal of licenses.

All licenses issued by the Board shall expire on December 31 of the year in which issued. Every pilot who holds a license as a branch pilot shall appear before the Board every twelve months, and, if the Board deems him qualified, it shall renew his license, which shall continue his term of office for one year following each renewal. Upon each renewal he shall appear before the clerk before whom he originally qualified, and renew his oath of office, but the bond given by him shall remain in force.

Code 1950, §§ 54-537, 54-538; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-907. Fee for original license and license renewal.

Upon the application for license as a branch pilot and each renewal thereof, the applicant for license or license renewal shall pay a fee established by the Board pursuant to § 54.1-113.

Code 1950, §§ 54-539, 54-540; 1988, c. 765; 1990, c. 72.

§ 54.1-908. State and local licenses prohibited.

No state, city, town or county licenses shall be assessed against any branch pilot.

Code 1950, § 54-541; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-909. License as limited branch pilot.

Any apprentice may apply to the Board for a license as a limited branch pilot. The Board may grant him a license after proper examination if in the opinion of the Board the applicant is qualified. The Board may endorse on the license such limitations as it deems proper, and a limited branch pilot shall perform his duties of piloting and conducting vessels within the limitations imposed by his license.

Code 1950, §§ 54-542, 54-543, 54-556; 1988, c. 765; 2007, cc. 326, 559.

Article 3. Duties and Liabilities of Master, Etc.

§ 54.1-910. What vessels to take pilots and where.

The master of every vessel, other than vessels exclusively engaged in the coastwise trade and those made exempt by United States statutes, inward bound from sea to any port in Virginia or any intermediate or other point in Hampton Roads, the Virginia waters of Chesapeake Bay, or in any navigable river in Virginia which flows into Chesapeake Bay or Hampton Roads, shall take the first Virginia pilot that offers his services. Any such vessel outward bound, or bound from one port or point in Virginia to another port or point, shall take the first Virginia pilot that offers his services at the port, point, or place of departure or sailing. Any master refusing to do so shall immediately pay to such pilot full pilotage from the point where the services are offered to the point of destination of the vessel.

Code 1950, § 54-544; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-911. Notice to pilot officers.

The master, agent or consignee of any vessel requiring a pilot shall give at least two hours' notice of the need for a pilot to the pilot officers.

Code 1950, § 54-547; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-912. Employing unlicensed pilots.

No master shall employ any person who is not licensed as a pilot to act as a pilot of his vessel.

Code 1950, § 54-548; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-913. Concealing name of vessel.

The master of a vessel shall not conceal or obscure or refuse to disclose the name of his vessel when spoken to by a pilot.

Code 1950, § 54-549; 1988, c. 765.

Article 4. Duties, Rights and Powers of Pilots.

§ 54.1-914. Keeping pilot boat.

Every pilot, or the company to which he belongs, shall keep one sufficient boat of at least thirty feet keel.

Code 1950, § 54-550; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-915. Pilot first meeting vessel at sea to have preference.

The first pilot who meets a vessel coming in, which his branch entitles him to conduct, shall have the right to take charge of and conduct her into port.

Code 1950, § 54-554; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-916. Discretion of pilot piloting vessel.

Any pilot piloting a vessel shall have full discretion as to when the vessel shall be piloted to or from sea, or to or from any port or place within the Commonwealth or situated within any of the waters referred to in § 54.1-910. The pilot's discretion shall be exercised in a reasonable way, with a view to the vessel's safety as well as with a view to the safety of the Commonwealth's waters and ports.

Code 1950, § 54-558; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-917. Enforcement of suspension.

If any individual whose pilot's license has been suspended is found on board any vessel as a pilot, or offers to conduct any vessel, he may be dismissed from the vessel by any licensed pilot, to whom all the pilotage shall be paid. The Board may proceed against the individual under the provisions of § 54.1-924 as if the individual had never been licensed. An individual whose pilot's license has been suspended may also be proceeded against under § 54.1-111.

Code 1950, § 54-561; 1988, c. 765.

Article 5. Fees and Charges.

§ 54.1-918. State Corporation Commission to prescribe and enforce rates of pilotage and other charges.

The State Corporation Commission shall prescribe and enforce the rates of pilotage and other charges to be observed in the business of pilotage, but before the Commission fixes or prescribes rates or charges it shall give ten days' notice of the time and place of a hearing by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in each of the Cities of Norfolk, Portsmouth and Newport News. For the purpose of determining the fair basis of such rates and charges, the Commission shall, for the two years next preceding, have access to the books and records of the individual pilots who have no organized association, and of any association of pilots who have an organized association whose rates are to be fixed by the Commission, and shall have the same powers given by law in fixing rates and charges of transportation companies.

The Commission shall fix amounts that will be a fair charge for the service rendered. The Commission shall have due regard for necessary operating expenses, maintenance of, depreciation on, and return on investment in properties used and useful in the business of pilotage, and the rates and charges of pilotage at comparable and competing ports of the United States.

When such rates and charges have been fixed and prescribed by the Commission, they shall be the legal rates and charges of pilotage in Virginia, and shall be enforced as provided by law, and the Commission shall have the power to change or alter rates or charges after notice and hearing as provided in this section.

Code 1950, § 54-562; 1988, c. 765; 1992, c. 10.

§ 54.1-919. Appeal from action of Commission.

From any action of the State Corporation Commission under § 54.1-918, an appeal may be taken by the individual pilots, company or association affected, or by any other person, firm or corporation aggrieved by such action, in the manner prescribed in Article IX, Section 4 of the Constitution of Virginia.

Code 1950, § 54-563; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 37; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-920. Detention on seagoing vessel.

If a pilot is detained on board any seagoing vessel he shall be paid by the master, owner, or consignee of the vessel the rate prescribed by the State Corporation Commission for a day's detention for each day detained. If any pilot is carried beyond the limits of the Commonwealth against his will, he shall be entitled to recover $300 from the master or owner of the vessel upon which he has been carried away.

Code 1950, § 54-564; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-921. Quarantine detention.

If any pilot is permitted to go on board a vessel without being informed of a contagious or infectious disease on board, and is obligated to remain on board, or perform quarantine in consequence thereof he shall be paid for each day's detention in accordance with the rate prescribed for a day's detention by the State Corporation Commission.

Code 1950, § 54-565; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-922. Liability for pilotage and other allowances.

The master and the owner of every vessel shall each be liable to the pilot for his pilotage and other allowances, and also the consignee or supercargo of any vessel not owned by a resident of the Commonwealth. If the consignee or supercargo refuses to become responsible to the pilot for his fees, the master or owner of the vessel shall, before she leaves her port of departure, deposit with some responsible person, subject to the order of the pilot, the amount of the pilotage due him.

Code 1950, § 54-566; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-923. When pilot to produce branch.

Every pilot shall, if required, produce his branch at the time of demanding his fees, before he shall be entitled to receive the same.

Code 1950, § 54-569; 1988, c. 765.

Article 6. Offenses and Penalties Generally.

§ 54.1-924. Piloting, etc., vessel without license; how offenders proceeded against.

No person shall conduct or pilot a vessel to or from sea, or to or from any port or place in Virginia unless he is licensed under this chapter.

Warrants for persons violating this section may be issued by any magistrate, upon the oath of any party complaining, and shall be returnable to the Circuit Court of the City of Norfolk. After a bond hearing held pursuant to Chapter 9 (§ 19.2-119 et seq.) of Title 19.2, the bond shall be returned by the judicial officer to the circuit court of the City of Norfolk, which shall have jurisdiction for trial of such misdemeanor.

Code 1950, § 54-571; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-925. Exception as to vessels in distress.

Section 54.1-924 shall not prevent any person from assisting a vessel in distress.

Code 1950, § 54-572; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-926. Pilot receiving unlawful fees.

No pilot shall demand or receive other than the lawful fee for any service. Any pilot who violates this section may be suspended by the Board for up to six months.

Code 1950, § 54-573; 1988, c. 765.

§ 54.1-927. Violation of chapter a misdemeanor.

Any person who violates any of the provisions of this chapter shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

1988, c. 765.