When I read about the pilots and wharves trustees ("Parties agree to meet and talk about fog delays," The Daily News, Feb. 21), it seems as though the pilots holding up not just the wharves — but the whole county.

They want 30 percent more that may be warranted, but as I read about this robbery I never read about what they charge the ships to come into port.

While on a cruise the captain said with the new GPS systems they could park themselves; if so, it seems like someone is holding up someone.

Clyde Holt

League City


(3) comments

Mark Stevens

GPS is good. But GPS cannot itself see through the fog to avoid another ship, possibly with a dangerous chemical cargo. GPS itself has no knowledge of the behavior of currents in any given port approach or weather condition. The US Navy had plenty of whizbang GPS devices and that did not prevent several recent tragedies, maybe because the crews were fatigued or just not "looking out the window." Those pilots earn every nickel and more, keeping us all save.
Mark W. Stevens

Bill Cochrane

Mr Stevens, you are correct. GPS can’t “see through” fog. Never could, never will. Obviously you know lawyer stuff, but very little about navigation. GPS means Global Positioning System. The Captain was saying that GPS is so accurate within 3 meters (that’s 9 feet) that they can “park” or dock without pilots. Radar is the reason that ships can navigate through fog, because Radar can see through fog.
But since you want to get involved in the discussion, please answer this. Why do only foreign flagged vessels have to be guided by the Pilots?

Charlotte O'rourke

Thanks for your explanation Bill.

Some people might not know that the GalTex Pilots were instrumental in helping the Port of Galveston obtain the cruise business. Everyone at that time emphasized the advantage of having an easy in/out at the Port of Galveston compared to the Houston ship channel and other competitor ports with lengthy transit times. Our pilots skill and dedication in moving vessels safely in fog season while the port grew its business was awesome to watch.

My question is: what happened? One would think the technology only became more advanced.

To put the issue in perspective - imagine that you have a business and have put millions of dollars into growing that business. The state mandates that you must hire a specific group of workers. You can’t decide the rate of pay or prevent large unexpected pay increases. You can’t specify the training required to do the job or when or even if the worker shows up. You can’t even set up a meeting with the group in charge to discuss customer complaints.

On the other hand, your competitors have all of these rights and controls over the state mandated workers as the port board also serves as the pilot commissioners.

“They can’t have it because the governor and state law says they can’t have it,” Porretto, the longest-serving pilot commissioner, said.

“It” being equal rights -the same as other Texas ports - to control pilots rates and issues.

Galveston needs help to resolve this legislative disparity, and at a minimum needs to be able to TIMELY schedule a joint meeting with the pilot commissioners.

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