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U.S. Coast Guard increasing 2024 Great Lakes pilotage costs by 7%


The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) today published a Final Rule in the Federal Register outlining U.S. Great Lakes pilotage rates for the 2024 shipping season.

“This rule adjusts the pilotage rates to account for changes in district operating expenses, an increase in the number of pilots, and anticipated inflation, the Federal Register stated. “These changes, when combined, result in a 7- percent net increase in pilotage costs compared to the 2023 season.”

Total costs in 2024 are estimated at $40.2 million versus $37.6 million in 2023.

The new rates seek to generate revenue for each of the three U.S. Great Lakes pilot associations by implementing hourly charges to vessel operators for pilotage services according to geographic area. These rates range from $430 to $927 per hour depending on the service area.

In 2024, the USCG is proposing a total workforce of 58 fully registered pilots and 6  apprentice pilots. The Coast Guard will be increasing annual individual pilot compensation from $424,318 to a new high of $440,658 – a 3.8% increase.

Comments the American Great Lakes Ports Association: “Although pilotage is a necessary service for safe navigation, Great Lakes ports have historically criticized the Coast Guard for being insensitive to high pilotage costs, which can negatively impact the competitiveness of maritime commerce on the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway system.”

(Photo of vessels in Port of Duluth by Gus Schauer)