Five Things You May Not Know About Columbia River Pilots

by Gayle Gilham on February 5, 2018

in Featured Member

Columbia River Pilots

Have you ever driven along the Columbia River and wondered how such large shipping vessels could safely navigate so far up river from its mouth at Astoria? After all, many of these ships come from international ports, and chances are their captains have never experienced the Columbia until now. Did you know…

  1. Columbia River Pilots is an association of 40+ professional mariners licensed by the State of Oregon to pilot over 320 nautical miles of the Columbia River, from Astoria to the Ports of Longview, Kalama, Vancouver, Portland, The Dalles, and Pasco. This route is considered by many to be one of the most lengthy and challenging pilotage grounds in the world! They also provide service on 13 miles of the Willamette River, from its mouth to the seawall in downtown Portland.
  2. With 44 State-licensed pilots and a combined 639 years of piloting experience, Columbia River Pilots carry out their duties understanding that: 1) with over $24B in annual cargo value, the river is vital to Oregon’s economy; 2) safe navigation on the river demands continuously evolving expertise; and 3) to maintain the highest level of safety, efficiency and environmental protection on the river, the pilots must foster a close relationship with their partners.
  3. Their headquarters is located in the Rivergate District of North Portland. River pilots are dispatched from this modern facility, where all vessel activities are tracked and coordinated as they arrive, anchor, shift between berths or depart. Their pilot station is located on the Astoria waterfront at the foot of 14th Street. This historic facility provides moorage for the pilot boat, the Connor Foss, and sleeping quarters for pilots awaiting inbound ship assignments.
  4. The earliest records of any licensing board in Oregon are the laws applying to bar and river pilots. Piloting first became a major concern in Oregon in 1846 when an unqualified seaman offered his pilotage services on the treacherous Columbia River Bar. Fast forward to today, and the Board of Maritime Pilots acts as the professional licensing and regulatory agency whose primary consideration is public safety. Appointed by the Governor, this board is comprised of nine members: three public, three pilots and three maritime industry individuals.
  5. The vessels piloted by Columbia River Pilots include: Articulated tugs and barges, car carriers, container ships, cruise ships, cargo ships, log carriers, and other large ships.

Cascade is proud to feature this member, charged with safely and efficiently piloting vessels in all weather conditions, at all hours of the day and night, 365 days a year, Protecting the Great River of the West Since 1846.

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