We play a pivotal role in commerce.

IDP plays a pivotal role in keeping commerce moving, both efficiently and safely, in the Port of Hampton Roads Virginia and the lower Chesapeake Bay. Having worked on the tugboats, our pilots are masters of towing and have a very unique understanding of each tug’s ability. Ship-handling is an art form and we pride ourselves for being industry experts only employing the exact number of tugboats to safely navigate a vessel within the port.  Furthermore, we have a close working relationship with the tugboat's crew, keeping their safety in mind throughout the entire ship maneuver.

Before 1987, McAllister's tugboat captains served in the capacity of Docking Pilot for vessel movements in the Port of Hampton Roads Virginia.  In 1987 IDP was officially formed, and today we have seven federally licensed Unlimited Tonnage First Class Pilots. The pathway to becoming a docking pilot starts on the deck of a tugboat. Deckhands learn how to make and break tow, properly secure the tug to a vessel in assist, and maintain the tugboat while practicing good seamanship in a dangerous working environment.

Over time, with the knowledge gained from working the deck and having passed the required U.S. Coast Guard exams, the promotion to apprentice steersman, mate and eventually tugboat captain occurs. While serving in the capacity as captain aboard one of McAllister's towboats, tractor tugs or conventional harbor assist tugs, hopeful candidates board commercial and naval vessels and shadow a docking pilot to gain the necessary route trips to sit for a federal first class pilot endorsement. Upon selection as a docking pilot apprentice, the candidate enters into a very long and arduous apprenticeship, further gaining knowledge specific to the job while relying on their skill set that was earned while working aboard the tugboats assisting ships, dead-ships and barges.

(757) 876-1878


Chesapeake, Virginia

© 2023 by Independent Docking Pilots, Inc.