Pilots, NOAA sign pact to enhance navigation safety

(WASHINGTON) — Senior leaders of the American Pilots’ Association (APA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Ocean Service (NOS), Office of Coast Survey, have signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) that calls for the two parties to cooperate and share information so that they can better carryout their respective roles and responsibilities related to safe maritime navigation in America’s ports and waterways.

Rear Adm. Benjamin Evans, director of the Office of Coast Survey, and Capt. Jorge Viso, APA president, signed the MOA.

The purpose of the MOA is to “promote safe maritime navigation through the exchange of marine navigation information and data, and to further enhance the traditionally strong relationship between NOS and APA, as well as to recognize and facilitate communications and working relationships among NOAA, NOS, APA, APA’s Navigation and Technology Committee, and APA-member pilot groups throughout the United States.”

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Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding photo

Over the past several years, NOAA, NOS and APA have worked closely on a number of marine navigation issues such as nautical charting, the sunsetting of traditional paper charts, surveying the nation’s commercial waterways, and improving the inputs for emerging navigation technologies. This MOA will bolster such cooperative efforts.

Viso emphasized that the MOA signing not only acknowledges the existing relationship between NOAA, NOS and APA, but also lays the groundwork to continue to build upon this important relationship, especially on issues of safe maritime navigation.

“The commitment of NOAA, NOS to safe maritime navigation is a commitment shared by pilots around the country,” Viso said. “Through this MOA and our collective commitment to this government-private sector partnership, all parties are charting a safer course for the future by working constructively on the shared goal of improving and promoting safe navigation in the marine environment.”

The APA, one of the country’s oldest trade associations, is the national association for the piloting profession. It was established in 1884 to protect and improve the state pilotage system, to maintain the highest possible professional standards for licensed pilots in the United States, and to promote navigation safety. Virtually all the more than 1,200 state-licensed pilots working in the 24 U.S. coastal states, as well as all of the U.S. registered pilots operating in the Great Lakes system under authorization by the Coast Guard, belong to APA member pilot groups.

These pilots handle well over 90 percent of large oceangoing vessels moving in international trade in U.S. waterways. The role and official responsibility of these pilots is to protect the safety of navigation and the marine environment in the waters for which they are licensed.

President Thomas Jefferson created the U.S. Coast Survey in 1807 to provide nautical charts that would help the young nation with safe shipping, national defense, and maritime boundaries. Two centuries later, Coast Survey – now an office within NOAA – continues to provide navigation products and services that ensure safe and efficient maritime commerce on America’s oceans and coastal waters, and in the Great Lakes.

– American Pilots’ Association

By Rich Miller