The Bar Pilots own and maintain two Pilot stations along the waterways they serve, Venice and at Southwest Pass. These stations are the backbone of the 24/7 service required to keep maritime commerce flowing smoothly. Together, these two stations make up one of the most technologically advanced Pilot systems in the world.
The entrance to the Mississippi River creates unique logistical hurdles due to its geographical location. In addition, the weather and environmental conditions at these remote locations mean these stations were engineered to withstand the worst of conditions, while affording Pilots and staff a comfortable work environment. Since Pilots and their support staff work and live while they are on duty for two weeks at a time, stations have access to the latest information regarding weather, traffic density, water depths, navigational aids, and tides. Pilots can also converse with each other between jobs about current conditions. Having access to up to date conditions and experiences is a key component to our success in providing timely and safe Pilot service.
The Pilot station located at Southwest Pass, where the river empties into the Gulf of Mexico, can only be reached by boat and was commissioned in May, 2004. It took a direct hit from hurricane Ivan soon after with very little damage. Hurricane Katrina hit it the following summer, causing more severe damage, but still provided a working platform the Pilots were able to return to in less than a week.
Unfortunately Hurricane Katrina completely destroyed our 100-year-old station in Pilottown. Because of the destruction to our station and to the island itself, we were forced to move our location upriver to dry land in Venice, with access to municipal services such as water, sewer, phone lines, and fast internet service. Since a marine contractor was not needed to build our facility we were able to save millions in construction costs. This location is also located inside a federal levee protection system helping to reduce insurance cost.