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Role of a pilot

Would you like to pilot some of the biggest ships in the world along one of the world’s most famous rivers?

As a Pilot with the Port of London Authority, you’ll guide vessels along 95 miles of waterway, from central London all the way out to the North Sea, navigating the turns of the iconic Thames, past famous landmarks and under historic bridges.

Our Pilots board all types of vessels, from the biggest container ships and tankers to warships and cruise ships visiting London, using their experience and local knowledge to ensure the safe passage in, out and around the tidal Thames. They operate 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and, at times in challenging conditions, working to keep trade and visitors flowing on the heartbeat of London.

We need motivated, ambitious mariners to join our 100+ strong team of sea and river Pilots.

It’s a challenging role that requires rigour, determination and commitment. We’ll provide ongoing professional support as you train to acquire the skills you need to become a Port of London Authority Pilot. We put health, safety and wellbeing at the top of our priorities, along with customer service and professionalism, and we’ll expect you to do the same.

Minimum Requirements

To apply to be a Port of London Authority Pilot you must:

  • Be eligible to work in the UK – Find out more about eligibility
  • Hold a STCW II/2 Masters Unlimited Certificate of Competency, or have achieved this by the time of training commencement if successful (Evidence of Notice of Eligibility will be required)
  • Hold an unrestricted ENG1 medical certificate (or equivalent)
  • Hold a full current driving license
  • Be an excellent communicator and fluent in English, in particular when using VHF
  • Have good spatial awareness
  • Be decisive and able to act confidently
  • Be a team player with good I.T. skills

Desirable Skills

  • Experience of tug operations (berthing & unberthing)
  • Experience of working aboard a variety of commercial vessels
  • Knowledge of the Port Marine Safety Code
  • Local knowledge of the river Thames

These skills are desirable, however training will be provided for the right candidate

Key Accountabilities

Some of the key accountabilities of our Pilots:

  • Providing clear navigational advice and information on regulatory requirements to vessel masters
  • Supporting vessel masters in their communication with personnel and other vessels
  • Conduct of navigation and bridge management duties
  • Recording and submitting passage plans
  • Coordinating tug activity
  • Upholding the reputation of the Port of London Authority in the delivery of safe operations and excellent customer service

Also read:

• The Role of a Pilot

It’s a challenging career that requires rigour, determination and commitment. You’ll be responsible for vessels from all over the world.

• Our Pilot Training Programme

During your training, we will provide ongoing professional support, as you acquire the skills needed to become a Port of London pilot.

• Meet Our Trainees

Recent recruits share their insights on joining the PLA.

• FAQs

Commonly asked questions about our Pilotage department.

• Benefits

As a Port of London Authority employee, you’ll have access to generous benefits.

• Application Process

How to submit an application and what happens after you apply.

• Pilot Recruitment

• PLA Pilotage Services