Great Lakes-Seaway commercial vessels are operated by highly trained mariners, experts in their area of specialty. Training and licensing is governed by both domestic and international law.
- International Vessels
The International Maritime Organization (IMO), an agency of the United Nations, establishes consistent standards for the training of seafarers throughout the world. Such training includes expertise in regulatory compliance, navigation and deck operations, engine operations, radio communications, emergency preparedness, medical care and survival, occupational safety, fatigue management, etc. Crew testing and licensing is governed by the vessel’s “flag-state,” or the country in which the vessel is registered.
- Domestic Vessels
U.S. and Canadian vessels operating in the Great Lakes-Seaway system are under the control of captains and senior officers who have studied at U.S. or Canadian maritime colleges, accrued years of on-the-job experience, and have been tested and licensed by government authorities. In the United States crew licensing is handled by the U.S. Coast Guard. In Canada, crew licensing is handled by Transport Canada. In addition to licensing requirements, each company has its own training program to ensure that company-specific standards for navigation expertise are met.
All international vessels operating on the Great Lakes-Seaway system are required by law to hire a U.S. or Canadian pilot to assist with navigation. Marine pilots are expert navigators familiar with local geography, weather, currents and sailing conditions. Pilots assist the ship’s captain and help to ensure the safe movement of foreign ships while they are operating in our waterway.
There are five pilotage service providers in the Great Lakes-Seaway region. Two are Canadian, and three are American. These organizations provide services according to geographic area. The pilotage regime in the Great Lakes is governed by Transport Canada and the U.S. Coast Guard. Both agencies oversee pilot qualifications, training, licensing, service standards and rate setting.