Overview

Texas state legislation enacted in 1923 tasked the members of the
Port of Houston Authority’s Port Commission
to provide oversight of the Houston Pilots.

The Board of Pilot Commissioners for Harris County Ports, also known as the Pilot Board, is composed of the Port Commissioners of the Port of Houston Authority of Harris County, Texas.

The Pilot Board has exclusive jurisdiction over the piloting of vessels in Harris County Ports, including intermediate stops and landing places for vessels on navigable streams wholly or partially located in the board's jurisdiction.

The Pilot Board shall:

  • • establish the number of pilots necessary to provide adequate pilot services for each Harris County port;
  • • accept applications for pilot commissions and certificates and determine whether each applicant meets the qualifications for a pilot;
  • • submit to the governor lists of applicants the board finds to be qualified for appointment as pilots;
  • • establish pilotage rates;
  • • approve the locations for pilot stations;
  • • establish times during which pilot services will be available;
  • • hear and determine complaints relating to the conduct of pilots;
  • • recommend to the governor each pilot whose commission should not be renewed or should be revoked;
  • • adopt rules and issue orders to pilots or vessels when necessary to secure efficient pilot services;
  • • institute investigations or hearings or both to consider casualties, accidents, or other actions that violate this chapter; and
  • • provide penalties to be imposed on a person who is not a pilot for a Harris County port who pilots a vessel into or out of the port if a pilot offered those services to the vessel.

The Executive Director of the Port of Houston Authority serves as Secretary to the Pilot Board, and the Chief Legal Officer of the Port of Houston Authority has been appointed General Counsel to the Pilot Board.

Port of Houston Authority Legal Department staff members work with the Pilot Board appointed Application Review Committee. The committee includes voting members from the Houston Pilots Association, the Port of Houston maritime industry, the Harris County community at large, and the Port of Houston Authority. The committee conducts the preliminary review of Pool applicant, Deputy Branch and Branch Pilot applications.

Legal Department staff members also work with the Pilot Board appointed Investigation and Recommendation Committee. The committee includes voting members of the Houston Pilots Association, the Port of Houston maritime industry, the Port of Houston Authority, and nonvoting members from the United States Coast Guard. The committee institutes investigations or hearings or both to consider casualties, accidents, or other actions that violate the Act or Rules, and recommend action to the Pilot Board.

The Port of Houston Authority’s Chief Officer of Health, Safety, Security and Environmental chairs both committees and the Pilot Administration Manager serves as Compliance Coordinator.