Monday, April 17, 2006

Astoria - Bar Pilot Death Update

The Columbia River bar (where the Pacific Ocean meets the mouth of the Columbia River) has rightfully earned its reputation as the Graveyard of the Pacific. There was an article last week in the Daily Astorian about the conclusion of the investigation into the bar pilot's unfortunate death in January.

Bar Pilot Death Investigation

After reading it, I find it hard to believe that the safety measures they are now contemplating putting into effect weren't there all along. Sure, some of it was caused by errors on his part, and the rest was total mishap. However, it seems to me that there shouldn't be any room for mishaps in such a dangerous occupation, and that there should be safeguards in place to bypass possible bar pilot errors as well.

I hope he rests in peace, and that his death will spur safety enhancements swiftly for the other bar pilots.

Astoria Photografpix


Anonymous said...

As one who works closely with the pilot organization don't be led to think that these new safety measures will prevent the possibility of another mishap. The pilots have for years been very conscious of their situation and take most every measure to prevent the inevitable. The usual answer to a situation is to rethink it and measure the needs for revised safety equipment and procedures. The pilots worked 160,000 ship transfers since the last fatality, a remarkable records considering the conditions they operate in. They do jobs most sane persons would not do no matter the cost. We hope during our tenure another situation will not occur.
Remember the Oregon Board of Pilots (All but 2 are lay persons) think they are overpaid and are doing everything to reduce the pilot numbers(leads to longer hours) and salary further.
Write them at
800 NE Oregon St.
Portland, Oregon 97232

and express your displeasure.


Elleda said...

Thank you for your comments. I have emailed the Oregon Board of Maritime Pilots and expressed my displeasure. Here's a copy of the email:

Dear Oregon Board of Maritime Pilots,

Even after all these months, I am deeply upset about the death of bar pilot Kevin Murray. I can't help but feel that his death was totally unnecessary, and that if sensible safety precautions were in effect, it would never have happened despite any possible human error on Kevin Murray's part.

Bar pilots do an incredibly risky job, but even so, with proper thought, a tragedy like what happened to Kevin Murray could be prevented. So why, in this modern day and age of GPS tracking, etc., did this happen? With a job as dangerous as this one inherently is, why aren't all of the up-to-date technologies available to the bar pilots being used religiously? And why aren't all simple and sensible means being used to bypass human error, as well?

I hope that you will rethink your safety procedures, and amend them, so that what happened to Kevin Murray never happens again.


Elleda Wilson
Astoria, Oregon