About the UKMPA

The role of the UKMPA is to promote and protect the interests of maritime pilots and uphold the highest standards of pilotage services in the UK. We achieve this by actively engaging with stakeholders across the industry, providing expert advice to our members on various aspects of the profession, promoting and advocating for safe practices, delivering technically and professionally relevant information, and fostering a culture of collaboration within the industry.

Through these efforts, we strive to ensure safe and efficient pilotage operations that benefit the industry as a whole.

View UKMPA Constituency Map

General Info:

The United Kingdom Maritime Pilots Association (UKMPA), is the representative professional body for Maritime Pilots in the United Kingdom.

As an island nation, 95% of our trade by volume is moved by sea. Whether it is your internet shopping , the food keeping your supermarket shelf stocked, providing the fuel for your car or your cruise ship holiday, every person in the country, every day, will consume or use goods or services that have been provided to the UK by ship.

Maritime Pilots are key to keeping these essential ships safely transiting in and out of our ports and waterways in order to keep these vital trades secure.

Almost every ship entering or leaving a port, is required under UK law to engage a duly Authorised Pilot, who boards the vessel at sea, and takes conduct of the safe navigation of that vessel. Approaches and entry to ports is the most hazardous part of a ships voyage.

This undertaking is critical to protecting the country’s national infrastructure and environment from damage or pollution, supporting the UK’s economy, and ensuring the safe, timely and efficient movement of essential trade.

The People:

All pilots are experienced Mariners, many having held senior positions afloat such as Captain prior to entering the profession. Pilots have extensive training and it is common for 10 years of experience to be required in the job before being permitted to handle the largest and most challenging ships.

The UKMPA represent approximately 500 Pilots, which is over 80% of the authorised pilots within the UK.

The Job:

Maritime Pilots are authorised under the requirements of UK law, and typically hold authorisations to work in a single port or area.

Within their coastal area, they specialise in expert knowledge of the weather, tides, water depths, local conditions and traffic in order to navigate ships safely, timely and efficiently, in and out of constrained waterways and ports. They combine this with many years of “hands on” experience as senior mariners, in effect bringing it all together as an expert, on board that ship, charged to ensure its safe passage.

Once inside a port, they will often work in directing other resources, such as tugs and berthing operatives, to safely manoeuvre the ship to a berth where it’s cargo will be loaded or discharged.

Pilots carry specific responsibilities set down in national legislation such as The Pilotage Act 1987. Additionally, they are required to ensure operations are safely conducted at all times and carry a legal duty to report any violations to national authorities.

Life as a pilot requires one to be in a good physical condition, in order to tolerate the physical stresses from boarding and landing ships sometimes conducted in extremes of weather, often at irregular hours, and be able to respond quickly and decisively to unexpected dangers.

National Impact:

The UK Maritime Sector facilitates 95% of all UK trade and is larger than both the automotive and aerospace transport industries. The sector is crucial to connecting British trade and commerce with the rest of the world.

In 2014, it was estimated that UK seaports handled £511 billion worth of goods. With 500 members, it is safe to say that UKMPA Pilots conduct, on average, £1bn worth of movement of goods each year, each Pilot, safely and efficiently.