Lakes Pilots Association

Serving Lake Erie and the Detroit / St. Clair river system
Find out more


Established in 1960, shortly after the opening of the Saint Lawrence Seaway, we have provided professional pilotage services for over 55 years. Working in "United States District 2", our pilots cover the waters of Lake Erie as well as the Detroit and St Clair river system, along with all of the associated ports. 

What does a pilot do?

To put it simply, our #1 job is public safety and environmental protection. Vessels coming in to the Great Lakes from overseas are required to enlist the services of a pilot to aid in the navigation of the narrow rivers and shallow shoals. We climb aboard the ship and maneuver the ships alongside the berths in our ports or through the narrow waterways connecting Lake Huron and Lake Erie. 

P/V Huron spirit

We are proud to announce that our new pilot boat will be introduced to full time service at the Port Huron pilot station this year. Built in 2016 by Gladding-Hearn of Somerset, Massachusetts, the Huron Spirit represents the latest developments in pilot boat design. Powered by twin Cummins engines producing 600 hp and having a service speed of 21 knots, this boat is built for rough weather service.

Huron Spirit on delivery run

Photo credit: Will Van Drop

huron spirit during shakedown

Photo credit: Frank Frisk

Our pilot boats

Our long-time workhorses have provided reliable service for 40 years, owing to the freshwater operating environment. 

Huron Maid

Built in 1977 in Toledo, OH. The Maid serves as our reserve boat should one of the others be down for preventative maintenance. 

Huron Belle

Built in 1979 by Gladding-Hearn (same as our new Huron Spirit), the Belle provides fast, safe, and efficient service at our Detroit pilot station. 

Interested in becoming a pilot?

The regulations governing U.S. Federal Great Lakes pilots are found in 46 CFR part 401-404. To be eligible to become an applicant pilot, one must accrue a minimum of 24 months of sea time aboard vessels over 4000 gross tons in a licensed officer capacity. If an individual is using sea time accrued upon the oceans, a minimum of 6 months experience must be on the Great Lakes. Generally, Lakes Pilots Assoc. prefers candidates to have experience as master aboard Great Lakes freighters, although it is not a requirement. For more information or to apply as an applicant pilot, please use the contacts included here.

Captain Dan Gallagher, President:
Captain Tony Brandano, head of selection and training:

Contact US

PO Box 610902
Port Huron, MI 48061-0902