By Helicopter

Helicopter Transfer Procedures:

Operations will be in accordance with ICAO regulations and with the International Chamber of Shipping’s Guide to Helicopter/Ship Operations rules.

The pilot helicopter SEAHAWK is 42.5 feet (12.96m) long with a rotor span of 35.5 feet (10.83m) and has a yellow body with the word PILOT prominently displayed on the side. Vessel configuration, sea state and wind force will determine if a hoist or landing will be conducted. To provide the highest degree of safety for boarding, the master may be requested to alter course or speed of the vessel, if safe to do so. The objective is to provide minimum roll of the vessel at the time of transfer.


  • After initial contact, the arriving vessel shall call the Columbia River Bar Pilots on VHF channel 9 when 15 miles from the CR Buoy.
  • Pilot helicopter SEAHAWK will be dispatched to the vessel with the marine pilot.
  • The arriving vessel must remain on VHF channel 9 for helicopter operations until the marine pilot is safely transferred and the helicopter has departed the area.

Masters, prior to helicopter arrival, must confirm the following:

  • Check that no wires or aerials are above the helicopter maneuvering zone.
  • Check that no loose objects are in or near the helicopter maneuvering zone.
  • At night, the vessel should be illuminated with all available deck lighting, but not in such a way as to blind the helicopter crew. Deck lights must remain ON until the helicopter has departed the area.
  • Assisting crewman should wear eye protective goggles.
  • Camera flash equipment must not be used, as it will interfere with the helicopter crew’s night vision.
  • If requested by the helicopter pilot, switch the ship’s radar to "stand-by."
  • DO NOT CHANGE COURSE OR SPEED unless instructed by the helicopter.
  • If conditions are rough, a trail/tag line may be used.
  • The vessel crew tending the trail line must ensure that the line is not fastened to the vessel and does not become fouled with the vessel.
  • The vessel crew tending the trail line shall use it to guide the marine pilot to the intended hoist area using only enough force to stabilize and keep the pilot from swinging into hazards.

Land-on-Deck Operations:

  • All vessel crew assisting with the transfer must remain clear of the designated helicopter maneuvering zone.
  • No vessel crew should ever approach the helicopter unless directed.
  • Never pass in back or in front of the helicopter while it approaches or is on deck.