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Business and Financial Tampa Bay Pilots Bring Them In


PALMETTO -- At Thursday's Port Authority meeting, Captain Allen L. Thompson, Executive Director of the Tampa Bay Pilots Association, walked commissioners and audience through what it takes to bring in a cruise ship, cargo vessel or tanker into Tampa Bay at either Port of Tampa or Port of Manatee. 

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The four-hour trip to Port of Tampa, or the two hour trip to Port Manatee, from the west side of the 180 ft. high Sunshine Skyway Bridge, to their designated berth, takes a hangful of very talented professionals to make the trip safely. Captain Thompson says once the vessel is in the channel, it is there until it gets to port.

375 years ago is when ships first started making the trek from the gulf to port at landside. Back then, they were not nearly as wide as the 120 ft. in width that some ships are today, nor did they need the 40 foot deep channel that exists there today. 

Modern could be 300,000 barrels of oil or 5-7 billion gallons of oil products, plywood, fertilizer and bananas. There is also an increasing number of cruise ships leaving Port Tampa and talk of ferries to and from Manatee. 

Thompson says it takes a lot of training to become a pilot and there is tremendous responsibility that comes with the job, safety being the primary objective. The economic impact shipping brings to the bay area equates to $15 billion and assists130,000 jobs in the 55 million ton of cargo that travels under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.    


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