Tampa Bay Harbor Pilot Carolyn Kurtz appointed Homeland Security’ Navigation Safety Advisory Council

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The Tampa Bay Pilots Association (TBPA), the association of harbor pilots serving the Tampa Bay area’s maritime traffic needs and a member of the Florida Harbor Pilots Association (FHPA), today announced that Captain Carolyn Kurtz has been appointed to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Navigation Safety Advisory Council.

Captain Kurtz was appointed by U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to serve on the advisory council with a term expiring on November 4, 2012.  Captain Kurtz was appointed as a member representing the viewpoint of professional mariners.

“It is an honor to be selected by the Department of Homeland Security to serve on the Navigation Safety Advisory Council,” said Captain Kurtz, who was the first female pilot in the State of Florida and is currently one of 35 in the country.  “I look forward to working with the advisory council on a wide range of issues relating to the maritime profession and hope that my experience in ship handling and navigation will prove to be beneficial to the safety and efficiency of our country’s maritime environment.”

In a letter to Captain Kurtz, Secretary Napolitano wrote that the advisory council “has provided valuable assistance to the Department of Homeland Security on matters related to prevention of collisions, rammings, and groundings, including the Inland and International Rules of the Road, navigation regulations and equipment, routing measures, marine information, diving safety, and aids to navigation systems.”

“The advisory council will benefit greatly from Captain Kurtz’s more than 26 years of service as a maritime professional,” said Captain Stuart Lilly, president of the FHPA.  “With Florida having 14 deepwater ports that are all exceptionally unique and Captain Kurtz being a harbor pilot at Florida’s largest port, she will bring an invaluable perspective on the intricacies of navigation safety.”

Captain Kurtz is the current secretary of the FHPA, representing the TBPA. Originally from New York, Captain Kurtz graduated from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in 1986. She immediately joined Maritime Overseas Corporation as third officer, obtained an unlimited master’s license in 1993 and sailed until 1994. In 1995, she became the first woman to enter the training program to become a harbor pilot in the State of Florida.

Captain Kurtz has previously served as an FHPA director and was co-manager of the Tampa Bay Pilots Association from 2007-2009. She has been recognized as a “Woman of Distinction” by the Girl Scouts; and in 2010, received the “Breaking the Glass Ceiling” Award from the Jewish Museum of Florida. She is also a guest instructor at MITAGS and Maritime Pilots Institute.

Currently, there are nearly 100 highly-skilled and highly-trained harbor pilots serving Florida’s 14 deepwater ports, all of whom trained for a minimum of two years in their respective ports before handling the largest ships on their own.  In a recent three-year period, Florida harbor pilots controlled the navigation of approximately 90,000 ships in Florida’s seaports, compiling an outstanding safety record.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.