US Great Lakes pilotage rates rising 7 percent

Screen Shot 2021 11 09 At 112704 Am

(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Coast Guard on Wednesday published a final rule in the Federal Register outlining U.S. Great Lakes pilotage rates for the 2022 shipping season. The agency had first published proposed rates and requested public comment on Sept. 14.

The Coast Guard final rule increases the overall cost of U.S. Great Lakes pilotage in 2022 compared to 2021 by $2.15 million, or 7 percent, effective April 29. In 2022, the Coast Guard is proposing a total workforce of 51 fully registered pilots and nine apprentice pilots. The Coast Guard will be increasing annual individual pilot compensation from $378,180 to a new high of $399,266, a 5 percent increase.

The new rates seek to generate revenue for each of the three U.S. pilot associations by implementing hourly charges for pilotage services according to geographic area. Pilotage rates are paid by vessel operators serving Great Lakes ports.

Screen Shot 2021 11 09 At 112704 Am
American Great Lakes Ports Association photo

Although pilotage is a necessary service for safe navigation, Great Lakes ports have criticized the Coast Guard for being insensitive to high pilotage costs, which can negatively impact commerce to ports, according to the American Great Lakes Ports Association.

The recent history of pilotage cost increases is detailed below:

(Year/pilot numbers/total estimated cost/percentage over prior year)


2015/36/$15,451,455/20 percent increase  over 2014

2016/37/$19,103,678/24 percent increase over 2015

2017/45/$22,326,381/14 percent increase over 2016

2018/49/$25,156,442/12.7 percent increase over 2017

2019/51/$27,988,185/11.3 percent increase over 2018

2020/52/$28,268,030/1 percent increase over 2019

2021/55/$30,332,652/4 percent increase over 2020

2022/60/$32,486,995/7 percent increase over 2021

To view a copy of the Federal Register notice, click here.

– American Great Lakes Ports Association

By Rich Miller