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In all organized ports in the world, as well as on rivers or other waterways that present local characteristics making the free movement of vessels difficult, there are Pilotage Services guiding navigation.


Thus, the Pilotage Services constitute a set of activities carried out by specialized technical professionals, called Pilots, with the objective of guaranteeing the safety of navigation in areas with a high risk of accidents.



Origins of the Profession


The origins of the Pilot profession are lost in time, as these professionals emerged as a result of the very existence of navigation.


The Phoenicians, around 3,400 years ago, already had Pilots who knew the Mediterranean coasts and ports well.


In the oldest literature describing events in ancient Japan, the book “Kojiki”, from the year 712 of the Christian era, references to the service of Practicals can be found.


In Brazil, the first Regiment for Practical Pilots was published on June 12, 1808, by means of a Decree signed by the Viscount of Anadia, with the signature of Prince Regent D. João VI, but there are previous records of the exercise of this profession since the beginnings of our colonial history.



Pilotage in Brazil



Since the first moment of its existence as a regulated activity in the country, it was up to the Navy, on behalf of the State, to provide for the proper functioning of the Pilotage Service.


After Independence, during the Empire and the Republic, Pilotage always remained under the control of the Navy. The existing records denote that in 1870 there was already a Praticagem da Barra (Práticos da Cidade) and, also, the Práticos da Barra Grande entity, which had Manoel Antonio do Couto as foreman and a total of 15 Pilots, between those from the port and the from the bar.


In 1885, Antonio Joaquim da Silva performed the duties of Chief Practitioner of the Barra, while José Bento de Almeida Júnior and Manoel Antonio do Couto were, respectively, the Foremen of the city and Barra.


In 1889, pilotage in the port was still under the immediate supervision of the Port Authority (Navy), whose orders were transmitted to the other Pilots by the Chief Pilot, Joaquim Pedro da Silva.


At the beginning of the 20th century, Pilotage at Barra Grande de Santos had Joaquim Pedro da Silva as Chief Pilot, who had been in charge since 1898, with Assistant Luiz Antonio de Oliveira and 22 Pilots, who used canoes with rowers, in a relay system, as they usually arrived near Ilha da Moela to pick up the boats. This Association was headquartered in a house located at Rua Antônio Prado, 100.


This organization, however, it is not known for what reason, ended up being extinguished. Pilots went back to working alone or in isolated groups, whose leaders were speedboat owners.


At that time, in addition to motorboats, rowing canoes were used, with individual Pilots going out to shore, directing four vigorous rowers, as whoever arrived first would bring the expected ship.



São Paulo Pilots



The São Paulo Pilots, as an institution, was founded in 1940, by Sebastião Couto and Constantino Azevedo, starting its activities with 12 Pilots and a few boats.


Adapting to the contingencies of each moment and with the main purpose of always offering the best service, this Pilotage has changed its legal form over the years, several times:


On June 11, 1945, through Decree No. 18846, it was renamed Corporación de Práticos, governed by a semi-militarized Regulation.


In November 1959, the Corporation was extinguished, becoming an Association.


In August 1961, the activities of the Work Cooperative of Santos and Baixada Santista Pilots began, legal form in which it operated until August 31, 1996, when it gave way to the organization by Society, called PRÁTICOS - SERVIÇOS DE PILOTAGEM DO PORTO DE SANTOS E BAIXADA SANTISTA S/S LTDA.


With the "vision" of providing the satisfaction of its customers and obtaining recognition for the quality of its services, PRÁTICOS was created with the "STRATEGIC MISSION" of providing the sole and exclusive Pilotage Services in the Pilotage Zone of Santos, to guarantee the excellence of these services.


Consequently, PRÁTICOS, in order to carry out its attributions, makes use of a considerable support infrastructure, which includes a highly specialized Administration; a Center for Coordination, Communications and Traffic Organization (C3OT), which plans and coordinates all activities related to pilotage services, aiming to make pilots available on board ships to carry out the planned maneuvers; a Maritime Sector, equipped with pilotage and mooring support vessels, equipped by qualified professionals, in the roles of Master and Sailor, destined to provide the safe transport and transshipment of these Pilots, as well as assistance in mooring the ships; and, for the maintenance and repair of these vessels, Práticos also has its own Shipyard.


In 2022, the Pilots decided to create an association of SLU (Sociedade Limitada Unipessoal) called COORDENAÇÃO GERAL DOS SERVIÇOS DE PRATICAGEM DA ZP-16 (PRATICOSZP16), a non-profit civil entity, organized for an indefinite period. With the creation of PRATICOSZP16, pilotage services were no longer performed by PRÁTICOS and began to be performed by SLUs.


Currently, the name “São Paulo Pilots” includes PRATICOSZP16 and all 60 associated SLUs.



The Port of Santos



The Port of Santos, since the 1920s, is the main one in the Southern Hemisphere in terms of traffic volume. It extends along 15 kilometers of a river-estuary that has an average width of 350 meters and a depth of between 10 and 14 meters, in addition to more than 50 mooring points. It is a port that can be classified as general cargo, that is, it operates with hundreds of different items, import and export products resulting from activities in the vast geo-economic hinterland that covers the entire State of São Paulo and part of Paraná, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais and Mato Grosso do Sul.


More than a third of all the wealth produced in Brazilian territory flows through here. Without the existence of this natural anchorage, at the foot of the Serra do Mar, there would simply not be the gigantic flow of industrial goods, agribusiness, petroleum derivatives, chemical products, etc.


“Santos Pilots” is the international VHF radio call expression used by all ships of any flag that approach its bar. All these ships are heading, by radio, several hours before arrival, to the Pilotage Operations Center in Santos. C3OT, as it is known, operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, without interruption since the end of World War II. Located at the head of the Pilotage Bridge, it has a panoramic view into the channel with 180 degrees of visibility. With a modern information technology system, it maintains permanent listening on VHF radio channels 16 and 11.


Today, the company has 60 Pilots, who were selected and qualified by the Brazilian Navy, in accordance with the rules contained in NORMAM 12, edited by the Directorate of Ports and Coasts.


Whatever its legal form of action, this Pilotage is proud to always provide the best service and, since its founding as an Institution, it has never closed its doors, turned off its lights or turned off its radios!

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