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Pilotage Service

  • The Pilotage service in Leixões is exclusively carried out by Pilots from the Pilotage Department of APDL - Administração dos Portos do Douro, Leixões e Viana do Castelo, S.A.

    Pilotage is a public service that consists of providing technical assistance to the captains of vessels during navigation and maneuvers in waters under national sovereignty and jurisdiction, in order to ensure that they are carried out safely. (Decree Law 48/2002 art.º 1º /1)

    It is carried out by duly qualified and certified port and bar pilotage professionals with experience in steering and maneuvering ships in restricted waters, who are familiar with the local physical characteristics and the legal and regulatory provisions applicable to the Port of Leixões.

    Pilots at the Port of Leixões are Merchant Navy Officers, graduates of the Infante D. Henrique Nautical School, most of whom are qualified with an M.M. Commander's Certificate.

    At the Port of Leixões, practical training takes place, under the responsibility of the Port Authority on a continuous assessment basis, for a year and a half, on board ships and in the coordination of the station, with the Competent Authority issuing the respective Certification.
    Together with the Leixões VTS, the Pilotage Department is part of the Navigation and Pilotage Coordination Division (DvCNP), under the responsibility of the Port Authority's Port Operations and Safety Directorate.

    This integration and coordination guarantees the effectiveness and efficiency necessary for smooth navigation, and high safety standards in approaches and entry and exit maneuvers, and in navigation information and assistance.

  • The use of the Pilotage service is compulsory:

    Leixões: inside the port and up to the outer limit of 2 miles, centered on the breakwater lighthouse (spur), and, for ships bound for or leaving the Leixões ocean terminal (monobuoy), within 3 miles, centered on the Leça lighthouse.

    Douro: throughout the navigable area of the River Douro, downstream of the Luiz I bridge and up to the outer limit of 2 miles, centered on the Felgueiras lighthouse.

  • The following are exempt from the obligation to use pilotage services:

    a) Warships, vessels and auxiliary units of the Navy, Maritime Police and National Republican Guard.

    b) National coastal navigation vessels or others that are temporarily authorized to operate in this traffic, belonging to the port authority or at its service.

    c) Local traffic vessels, local tugs and auxiliary vessels, or others that are temporarily operating in the local area.

    d) Vessels assigned to carrying out port work.

    e) Local and coastal fishing vessels.

    f) Vessels maneuvering along the quay, without losing contact, as long as they are directed by the captain or his direct substitute. Except in special safety situations provided for in port authority regulations.

    g) Recreational craft.

    h) Vessels whose captain holds a Pilotage Exemption Certificate.

  • The Pilotage Exemption Certificate is an authorization granted to the captain of merchant navy vessels to sail and manoeuvre within the compulsory pilotage area of a port, without resorting to pilotage services (Decree-Law no. 48/2002 art. 15).

    How to apply

    The applicant for a certificate of exemption from the pilotage service must submit an application with supporting documents:

    a) That in the last 12 months he/she has called at the port at least six times in the capacity of captain

    b) The area or areas of the port frequented

    c) The gross tonnage of the vessels

    d) Knowledge of Portuguese or English

    (Ordinance no. 288/2012)


    The certificate of exemption from pilotage service is limited to vessels with the maximum gross tonnage that the holder commanded during the period and in the areas referred to.

    The use of the certificate of exemption from pilotage service is prevented when the holders:

    a) Do not exercise command

    b) Command vessels carrying Class 1 and 7 cargoes and tankers carrying Class 2, 3 and 8 cargoes listed in Chapter VII of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974 (SOLAS 74), and described in the International Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG), or tankers in ballast which have not been degassed.

  • The request for pilotage services must be made no later than one hour before the time the maneuver is scheduled to take place, in order to be appointed pilot.

    It is made by the ship's agent in the Port Authority's computerized port management application (GCP).

    In the event of an emergency, the port of Leixões maintains a permanent listening system on VHF 16 and 12, guaranteeing the immediate appointment of a pilot.

    Pilotage services for ships calling at the Douro River are carried out by the Leixões Pilots up to the D. Luis I bridge.


    1 Manager + 15 Pilots

    Hours: 24 hours x 365 days


    Call - VHF 12 *

    Work - VHF 14 *

    (* Permanent listening)


    Tel: (+351) 22 999 07 00


  • The pilot's embarkation is carried out using suitable speedboats specifically certified for the service.

    Although the nautical chart for the approach to the Port of Leixões shows the pilot's embarkation point about 2 miles to the west of the breakwater, in unfavorable weather and sea conditions, and taking into account the size of the ship, the captain must maintain the necessary distance to make a rotation maneuver, with the ship following, in order to create shelter by the edge that the pilot advises.

    If boarding is carried out in the open sea, with adverse sea conditions, the ship must have the pilot's boarding ladder prepared on both sides, so that boarding is carried out on the most favorable side, taking into account the components: wind and wave at the time.
    The ladder must maintain a distance of about 1.5 meters from the waterline.

    It is not advisable to use the Hoister ladder, and it is not acceptable to use it in bad sea conditions, so the ship must have an alternative.
    When sea conditions do not allow the Pilot to board safely within the established limits, the service may be provided by remote assisted pilotage.

    Remote assisted pilotage is the pilotage service provided from a position outside the ship to a place where the Pilot can board.
    Smaller ships may sail to the shelter of the breakwater for boarding, provided that:

    Compliance with the safety requirements defined in the port regulations;

    A favorable opinion from the Pilotage Department, after assessing the sea conditions at the port entrance;
    The captain's explicit agreement to approach the inside of the breakwater without the pilot on board;
    The presence of the pilot boat outside with the pilot on board, providing assistance and monitoring the approach;
    Not being a tanker, whatever its size.

  •   Eira
    Reference Ln-1
    Register number L-2023-AL
    Hull Fiberglass
    Length (m) 15,75
    Mouth (m) 4,46
    Pontal 1,90
    Light Displacement 23 tons
    Travel Loaded 25 tons
    Machine Power (H.P.) 2 x 385 HP
    Maximum speed (Milles/hour) 22 knots
    Draught at the stern (Feets) 1,25



    Speedboats Longas Perlongas Sobreiras
    Reference LK-1 LM-1 LJ-1
    Register number P-4-L L-2019-AL L-2007-AL
    Hull Wood Fiberglass Fiberglass
    Length (m) 14,75 12 7,4
    Mouth (m) 3,73 3,95 2,75
    Pontal 1,65 1,65 1,42
    Gross Tonnage 22,94 16,68 5,42
    Net Tonnage 6,84 5 1,63
    Machine Power (H.P.) 197 640 227
    Maximum speed (Milles/hour) 10 35 14
    Stern Draft (Feet) 1,5 1 0,78



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