Crowley: Proposed Pilotage Fee Hike in Port Everglades Would Double Pilot Costs for Carriers

crowley vessel port everglades
Photo: Crowley

A proposed fee increase for harbor pilot services at Port Everglades, Florida will raise average pilotage by more than 100 percent on average for shipping lines that call frequently at the port, according to an analysis by Crowley Maritime Corporation, the port’s largest tenant.

The company is urging the Florida Board of Pilot Commissioners to reject the proposed increase, which will be considered at a public rate hearing later this week.

By law, carriers are required to pay for pilot services at the Port of Everglades, ensuring ships get in and out of the port safely.

Crowley says that while the proposed fee structure would benefit cruise ships in the form of decreased fees, for carriers like Crowley the proposal would hike costs.

According to Crowley’s analysis, pilotage fees will soar between 88 to 139 percent depending on the size of the vessel, leading to an “unjustified” average increase of 108 percent for Crowley.

“The Board of Pilot Commissioners’ proposal slashes charges for massive cruise ships, then unfairly overcharges cargo ship operators, the backbone of the port, to make up the difference,” said Steve Collar, senior vice president and general manager of Crowley’s international services.

Crowley is the leading ocean shipping and logistics solutions provider in the U.S., Caribbean and Latin America and operates container ships and petroleum tank vessels in Port Everglades.

Crowley entered a new 10-year lease and operating agreement with Broward County in 2016 for a 99-acre marine terminal at Port Everglades. Under the agreement, Crowley guarantees certain volumes of container moves each year.

In 2018, Crowley expects to make 414 vessel calls at its terminal in Port Everglades an increase from 384 in 2017.

“Pilots serve the public interest by ensuring the safe and orderly arrival and departure of vessels from our ports. The current rates for pilotage services at the port are fair and fairly apportion financial responsibility for pilotage fees among the various operators at the port based on their risk profile and financial capacity. There is no reason to disturb the status quo and ocean carriers should not be hit with such an exorbitant increase that is unjustified, arbitrary and capricious,” said Crowley’s Alan Twaits, vice president and chief counsel.

The state Board of Pilot Commissioners is scheduled to consider the proposed increase at a public rate hearing Oct. 24-26 in Fort Lauderdale.