As Captain Jorge Viso sets a course for his transit as the new APA President, the popular veteran Florida pilot ushers in a new leadership era. He will help shape policy, speak for US pilotage, and serve as the face of American pilots. Like all pilots, he knows that every transit has its challenges and opportunities. Scanning the horizon from his new wheelhouse, Captain Viso engaged in Q&A with The Pilots PIO.
Captain Viso, thank you for taking the time to respond to some questions and to address the readers of The Pilot Boat. Let's get underway,...
In your opinion, what's the state of pilotage today in the world in general and the US and Americas in particular?
"In the U.S., the State Pilotage System is doing well. It continues to deliver safe, reliable, and efficient pilotage in the public interest, as it has for over 200 years. Internationally, we are led by Capt. Simon Pelletier, president of the International Maritime Pilots’ Association. Simon, like his predecessor Capt. Mike Watson, leads with a firm hand on the helm. I am confident in his leadership and stand ready to support him and IMPA."
What are the greatest challenges to pilotage?
"Maintaining the pilot at the forefront of the delivery of safe passage through pilotage waters. With the advent of electronic navigation change, we have to stay on the cutting edge. Not all change is good or relevant, and who better to determine what should be embraced and what should be avoided? Changes in technology and connectivity are changing the maritime industry, and that may affect piloting at some point. We, as leaders, should look forward, discerningly, and make sure that the pieces fit together and continue to provide safe passage. We cannot shy away from this task."
What are the greatest opportunities for pilotage?
"Pilots have been the early innovators and users of technological advances. Whether it was the use of portable VHF radios or deployment of PPUs, pilots brought these tools to bear in the wheelhouse. We should continue to push forward with implementation of technology and practices that enhance the safety of ship movements in our harbors."
What initiatives under taken by Captain Mike Watson and the APA do you envision continuing?
"The fundamental objectives of the APA since it was formed in 1884 will continue: to protect our country’s system of state regulation of pilotage and to advance the piloting profession and navigation safety. This means that the APA will be active on many fronts and in many different settings, both nationally and internationally. Like Captain Watson before me, I will go wherever, talk to whomever, and do whatever is necessary to achieve the objectives of the APA and help our member pilot groups."
What new initiatives do you aim to tackle as the new President?
"Training is a core element of any program in the development of a pilot from apprenticeship to full branch. Training in core skills and assimilation of new technology is important to the experienced pilot. I’d like to encourage groups to examine their own training regimes periodically. The end result is a highly competent pilot in the wheelhouse. I also want to stress, as Captain Watson often did, that despite the introduction of new technology on ships’ bridges, the essential keys to good piloting are good seamanship and the use of all available resources, including traditional tools such as radar."
In closing, do you have any parting thoughts that you would like to leave with our readers?
"I have thoroughly enjoyed my career as a pilot. Every transit has its own challenges, and therefore provides me with a great deal of satisfaction. I know pilots around the country feel the same way. I look forward to representing and serving this honorable profession and continuing the vital work of the American Pilots’ Association."
Captain Viso, thank you! Here's wishing you a Happy New Year and every success as the new APA President. And, of course, sincerest congratulations!
Captain Jorge Viso, President
American Pilots Association