The Crescent River Port Pilots have a 99.98 percent safety rating, even for minor incidents. Our pilots are well trained and handle their responsibilities like the professionals they are. The regulations set by the commission regarding qualifications, Coast Guard licensing, drug testing, continuing education and apprenticeship always keep safety as a primary concern. For pilots, safety is a very personal issue. They are responsible for a lot more than just cargo. If a major accident occurs on the river, lives could be lost, as well as major damage to the environment and maritime commerce of our state.
The war on terror has also focused attention on the critical role of maritime commerce and the Mississippi River in Homeland Security. River pilots are often the only American presence aboard foreign ships. They are trained in assessing dangerous situations and reacting quickly to provide the citizens of Louisiana and the United States the highest level of protection.
The Crescent River Port Pilots have worked diligently with the Coast Guard in the continual development of a state-of-the-art Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) system that will improve safety and efficiency, and heighten security against terrorists on the river. The Vessel Traffic Service Center operates 24/7, and a pilot is always present in the center, to provide expertise and local knowledge of the river. In July of 2004, the vice-chairman of the National Transportation and Safety Board commended the Crescent pilots on the role they have played in developing and establishing VTS.
With VTS Lower Mississippi River (LMR), the Coast Guard is able to identify and track the movements of all ocean-going vessels and most other commercial vessels moving on the lower Mississippi. Tracking begins even before a ship enters the river and extends up river beyond Baton Rouge. Pilots have a powerful new tool to assist safe navigation in the busiest waterway in the nation. Previously used, radar provided a very limited view of the river, and was markedly inhibited by the river’s twists and turns. Pilots relied on radio communication with other vessels to determine navigation conditions, which is not always dependable. VTS provides a detailed, real-time picture of vessel movements on the waterway, including vessel identification, as well as provide a method for communicating waterway conditions and special alerts to all mariners. VTS aids navigation even in fog or darkness, unaffected of river's twists and turns.
The Crescent River Port Pilots are at the heart of waterborne commerce. Last year the Crescent River Port Pilots piloted over 17,000 vessels into, out of, or through the Lower Mississippi River.