Harbor Pilots Needed to Steer Larger Ships

As container ships grow to unprecedented lengths, the pilots tasked with driving them to port face new challenges

The Wall Street Journal

Vallejo, CAJan. 4, 2016—Inside a simulation chamber, Kip Carlson is attempting to turn around a container ship longer than the Empire State Building within the narrow confines of one of Oakland’s port channels.

It is a tight squeeze. Carlson has roughly 50 feet to maneuver on either end of the ship, which rises so high out of the water that he can’t see the vessel’s sides or two simulated tugboats assisting with the turn. Relying on his view of the channel, as well as maps and measurements displayed on screens spanning the bridge, he gives orders to the ship’s crew.

After half an hour, the ship is facing back toward the San Francisco Bay and the simulator powers down.

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