Considering the amount of tonnage handled by the Port of Lake Charles, (ranked 11th in the country), and related industries, the Calcasieu Ship Channel has one of the finest safety records in the United States.

There has never been an accident on the Channel that was specifically attributed to pilot error or negligence.

Accidents do happen though, and some possible scenarios include:

  • Structural integrity failure
  • Ships have lost steering and power
  • Foreign ship crew underestimated heights of a ship

The Consequences of a Major Accident Can be Catastrophic

What would happen if 500,000 barrles of oil spilled into the Calcasieu Ship Channel?

  • Economy would be devastated
  • Jobs would be lost
  • Industry suffers/moves operation
  • Home values drop
  • LC Pilot’s have no job

Becoming a Lake Charles Pilot takes time and experience. By the time one becomes a State Commissioned Bar Pilot they will have:

  • Graduated from a Maritime College
  • Minimum five-years at sea on ocean going vessel in a position of Command (a long process in itself)
  • Minimum of 12 months (and up to 24 months) as an apprentice with only 4 days off per month
  • Trained specifically on the Calcasieu Ship Channel
  • Completed over 350 one-way trips on a variety of ships as an Apprentice
  • Passed a practical exam
  • Received a state commission from the River Port Pilot Commission

This means that before becoming a State Commissioned Lake Charles Pilot, an individual must dedicate close to a decade of education and training.

Lake Charles Pilots are widely acknowledged as being among the best trained and qualified in the world because hands on experience during the apprentice training and number of trips logged is second to none.

This is why our safety record and efficiency at moving vessels is so high.

During their tenure, a Pilot will be required to maintain a USCG Pilot License, remain active on the Pilot route, submit an annual physical, enroll in a random drug testing program, and participate is continuing education.