Port of Corpus Christi Pilots Raise Safety Issues

For months now, the men who pilot the big vessels in and out of the Port of Corpus Christi have been at odds with the industries who pay their salary. Salary has been one issue but the pilots say safety is their main concern.

3 News reporter Michael Gibson spoke with some of those pilots in Port Aransas.

The pilots point out that it is their responsibility to get ships through the port safely and if they see a problem that needs to be addressed, they're going to point it out.

That's exactly what they're in this case.

Many of the pilots 3 News spoke with have years of experience and concerns about the increase in shipping that is now flowing through the port, specifically large oil tankers, which they feel need special handling.

Only one of these pilots are on those ships to guide them in and out of the port. So far, that job has taken place without incident.

But the pilots say they need another fellow pilot on board these ships to serve as an extra set of eyes.

They also feel that the larger oil tankers need to come through the port during daylight hours, not at night. The pilots say it's more dangerous to move them at night and they don't want to see an accident where tens of thousands of gallons of oil spill into our waterways.

Jay Rivera, eight year veteran pilot, says,"Some vessels by their nature are much larger carry much larger amounts of crude oil and those are the ones we are trying to assess a higher level of care due to the possibility of 50 million gallons of oil meeting at once in our waterway at night where you can't really see where the oil would go if you had a spill or  a collision."

Bobby Grumbles, 24-year veteran pilot, says,"We are commissioned by the governor for the stewards of the waterway and it's our job and when we see a safety issue we bring it to our local pilot board and address it and we identified it we are the professionals."

The pilot board will hold a two day workshop with industry and the pilots beginning Monday at 8:30 p.m. at the Port headquarters on Power Street.

Industry officials say our port is one of the easiest ports to navigate. They don't want the nighttime oil shipments to stop and are not sure why a second pilot is really needed.

Maybe after this two day get together, the two sides will come to an agreement.


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