Since 1935, members of Puget Sound Pilots have built an extraordinary record of protecting the safety of passengers, crew, cargo and the environment in Puget Sound waters.
More than 7,700 times a year, pilots board vessels entering or leaving Puget Sound. They guide container ships, oil tankers, bulk carriers and cruise ships into and out of harbors, straits, rivers and bays in our area. They utilize their knowledge of local weather, tides, and currents to avoid other commercial and private marine traffic, reefs, shoals and other hazards. Adding to the difficulty, 65 percent of these jobs are performed at night. For every ship we see go by during the day, two go by in the middle of the night while the rest of the world sleeps.
The Puget Sound Pilotage District is one of the largest and busiest districts in the nation.
In addition to commercial vessels traveling north and south, Washington State ferries cross Puget Sound east and west more than 500 times a day. Puget Sound hosts a large commercial fishing industry as well as 1.4 million recreational boaters. Seattle and Tacoma combined are the nation’s third largest container complex and Puget Sound is home to the third largest concentration of naval vessels in the nation.
Despite these challenges, Puget Sound pilots have completed more than 200,000 transits over the last 25 years without a major incident.
Dale Jensen, Spills Program Manager for the Washington Department of Ecology, spoke at the West Coast Pilots Conference in March. Watch this video to see why he calls Puget Sound Pilots “the ambassadors to our state” and credits our pilots with one of the lowest spill volumes in our nation.