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The number of state pilots and deputy pilots is limited by the Board of Pilot Commissioners, which is empowered to determine how many of each will serve in individual ports on the basis of "the supply and demand for piloting services and the public interest in maintaining efficient and safe piloting services."(45)
Examination topics for an original First Class Pilot's license include piloting; aids to navigation; charts and navigational publications; seamanship; inland and international navigation rules (as appropriate); radar theory and observation; magnetic and gyro compass principles and use; meteorology and oceanography; ship maneuvering and handling; maritime law and regulations; and radiotelephone communications.
Thus certified, they are able to practice the piloting profession on board vessels that require federal pilots or that have the option to take state or federal pilots.
The system presently in operation in Florida ensures that deputy pilots have the benefit of a gradual and progressive increase in the magnitude of their piloting responsibilities, a strategy that may help to avoid the danger of a major mismatch between a pilot's developing skill and the difficulty of the task with which he or she is confronted.
The piloting of merchant vessels is an activity fraught with danger and pervaded by the constant threat of disaster.