Watson elected APA president

Capt. Michael R. Watson has been busy settling into his new job as the president of the American Pilots’ Association (APA).

Watson was elected as the association’s new president at the APA convention in New Orleans last October. His four-year term began on Jan. 31, 2001.

Watson comes to the APA from the Association of Maryland Pilots, for which he has served as president for the past 18 years. This is not Watson’s first tour as an APA officer. He has served as vice president of the APA North Atlantic Region since 1992.

Before becoming a pilot, Watson served as a naval officer in the Military Sealift Command (MSC), moving men and materials to the South China Sea during the Vietnam War. He later served as a chief officer for Farrell Lines, Inc., moving cargoes to ports in Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Mexico. It was this experience that earned Watson his apprenticeship with the Maryland Pilots.

Watson began his piloting career in 1970 guiding ships through the Chesapeake Bay lanes and the C&D Canal. After his internship, Watson earned a state captain’s license from the Maryland Board of Pilots and became a full partner in the Association of Maryland Pilots. He served the Maryland Pilots as marine superintendent, secretary and president, being elected to the first of nine two-year terms in 1983. He will remain a member of the Maryland Pilots.

Watson succeeded Capt. Jack Sparks, who served as APA president for the past eight years and as an active pilot for 31 years with the Pilots Association for the Bay and River Pilots of Delaware. He also served as that association’s president from 1983 to 1989. The APA honored Sparks at the convention with designation as an APA Life Member. Sparks also received the Coast Guard Distinguished Public Service Award from Rear Adm. Robert C. North, assistant commandant for marine and environmental safety and convention keynote speaker. Sparks officially retired on Dec. 31, 2000.

By Professional Mariner Staff