Ships of over 90 metres in length are obliged to take pilotage on the Elbe from the North Sea and as far as the Port of Hamburg. Different transfer craft are used to ensure that pilots arrive on board safely. A pilot base ship is stationed at the mouth of the Elbe. Pilots await their next assignment there, or are brought back there from departing ships. Pilot craft are required to remain operational in any weather. Ultra-safe double-hulled vessels are deployed on the North Sea coast. Even in heavy seas, these lie flat in the water.

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