Pilot boats are vessels employed by ports to deliver pilot services to incoming vessels. Pilot vessels require high speed to meet and match the incoming vessels, a clear working deck suitable for disembarkation of the pilot, and collision resistant sides (i.e., fenders) to prevent damage while alongside.
Pilot boats often meet the incoming vessels outside of protective waters, and thus should be relatively sea-worthy. The process of transferring personnel from the pilot boat to the ship in question is a dangerous operation, complicated if occurring at night or in rough weather. The pilot boat will need ample power, in excess of what is required to reach the other vessels speed (typically from 0 - 12 knots) - so as to be capable of immediate acceleration often required to hold position. The view from the bridge should be clear to the pilot disembarkation point. Consideration should be given to the methodology of the pilot's boarding of the pilot ladder or cage, i.e., minimizing the gap between boats and ensuring the ladder is not snagged by the pilot boat. Additionally, consideration should be given to the prevention of injuries in the event of falls and provision for the recovery of personnel overboard.