The pilot service 


We can occupy incoming ships already in their last port of departure and advise their captains on the approach to Hamburg, if requested.

With this offer waiting times can be reduced on days with bad weather conditions in the german bight and the ships can come up directly. On request, we consult outgoing ships to the german pilot stations of all german districts. In the traffic centers in Brunsbüttel and Cuxhaven, additional sea pilots can advise the captains and on-board pilots on board on shore radar screens, for example in fog, storms or icy weather conditions.

The Elbe Brotherhood of Pilots currently maintains 4 pilot stations on the Elbe. Hamburg - Brunsbüttel - Cuxhaven - as well as the sea station at the Elbe light buoy. The station for pilot district 1 is in Hamburg and the station for pilot district 2 is in Brunsbüttel.

Hamburg is the main station for all ships leaving Hamburg. The sea station in the Outer Elbe, near the "Elbe" light buoy, is the main station for all ships entering the Elbe. Brunsbüttel is the central changing station for all ships destined for Hamburg and the sea as well as for all ships to and from the North Sea Canal. She also coordinates all of the Fraternity's special services. The deployment of the sea pilots in the Brunsbüttel traffic center is also coordinated from here. Sea pilots are also deployed from the Cuxhaven station in the port of Cuxhaven and in the Cuxhaven traffic center.


The regular pilot service

We guide the ships from the Elbe estuary or buoy "E3" in the German Bight to the Hamburg port border or to and from the North Baltic Sea Canal. In addition, all ports and piers on the Elbe are served by us. For this purpose, around 300 sea pilots are available around the clock, 365 days a year. In the exposed function as an independent advisor to the captain, who is only subject to the ease and safety of traffic, we can guarantee safety and efficiency. This status enables us pilots to make decisions free from economic pressure.

We Elbe pilots come from all areas of seafaring and have the highest nautical patent. The professional experience as a captain or chief officer in the worldwide voyage, which is one of the access requirements for the pilot's license, guarantees a high level of professional competence. As a result, all technical directions of seafaring are included, so that the greatest possible diversification of all seafaring experiences is available. The members of the Elbe Brotherhood of Pilots are subject to regular theoretical and practical training. The controllers expand their knowledge through training on simulators and other systems so that they can always use the latest technology.

In 2014, all controllers were equipped with a "Portable Pilot Unit" (PPU). These small portable computers serve as an additional source of information for the pilot on board. The PPUs are always kept up to date by the brotherhood. They contain - in addition to a specially developed nautical chart - a lot of helpful information that the pilot can use for support. Reliable piloting can thus be carried out independently of the systems on board.

The Elbe Brotherhood of Pilots, as a corporation under public law, is subject to the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Transport, Housing and Urban Development.

The German sea pilot system is part of the "German coast" traffic safety concept, which was set up by the federal government as a mode of transport to protect the environment and ensure safety and order on the waterways. The Elbe Brotherhood of Pilots is represented in all advisory bodies.


Weser Service

For ships departing from Weser Ports, bound for River Elbe we can provide the Elbe-Pilot to board the ship before departure.

Please order your Elbe-Pilot 6 hours prior to departure:

Elbe-Pilot Brunsbüttel
Tel.: +49 (0)4852 - 87295


german bight

The following vessels are obligated to take on a pilot at  "E3"  light buoy

Tankers, §30 SeeSchStrO: Length> 150 m or breadth > 23 m

Bulk carriers: Length > 220 m or breadth > 32 m

Other vessels: Length > 350 m or breadth > 55 m


ETA for inbound vessels placing orders for pilots at the "E 3" buoy are as follows:

1. ETA: 24 hrs prior to arrival at boarding position at “E3” light buoy
2. ETA: 6 hrs prior to arrival at boarding position at “E3” light buoy
3. ETA: 2 hrs prior to arrival at boarding position at “E3” light buoy

For further details please refer to “LOTSVERORDNUNG ELBE” or call Elbe Pilot


Tel.: +49 (0)4852 - 87295
Tel.: +49 (0)40 - 820244

Seestation: VHF Channel 8


overseas service

We Elbelotsen do not offer any advice for trips to the Elbe. We only support you with your arrive at the Elbe.


Europa service

As an additional service, the Elbe pilots offer to man ships in the outer harbor on the European coast in order to advise the ship's command appropriately when heading for the Elbe and to avoid waiting times in the event of bad weather. This is not an overseas pilotage (deepwater pilotage).

All ships that are heading for the Elbe from northern European ports or from overseas are offered the opportunity to take the pilot on board in the port of departure or enroute. Regular ports of departure are e.g.:


Amsterdam Dover Gotheburg Skagen Vlissingen
Antwerpen Emden Immingham Southampton  
Brixham Esberg Le Havre Stockholm  
Cherbourgh Felixstowe Rotterdam Tilbury  



Of course, orders to other ports are also possible.

The consultation of the ship already begins in the port of departure. This means that the pilot will carry out a complete passage planning, taking into account the wishes of the ship's command, the berth in the port of destination, the draft, the expected tides and all other important details.

This service ensures, especially for large ships, a smooth passage from the port of departure to the berth in Hamburg, even in the most unfavorable weather conditions, such as storms, fog or ice.

Please send your pilot order within office hours to:

Pilot Brotherhood Elbe pilot district 2 Brunsbüttel


Tel.: +40 4852 87246
Fax.: +49 4852 87487

Outside office hours, please send your pilot order to:

guard Brunsbüttel:

Tel.: +49 4852 87295