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PE-Express
Pilot celebrates four decades of service
From left are Captain Brynn Adamson (Harbour Master), pilot Bernard Murphy and Rajesh Dana (port manager, Port of PE) at the company’s long service awards celebration. photo:SUPPLIED

THE dedication of pilot Bernard Murphy, who has come ashore after 41 years of service, was recently in the spotlight at the Port of Port Elizabeth.

Murphy joined the now Transnet National Ports Authority on January 20, 1973. As an open pilot licence holder, Murphy has completed 3 224 vessel movements at the Port of PE and moved a total gross tonnage of 120 121 410 tons.

He also piloted 205 vessels when the Port of Ngqura opened in 2009.

Murphy’s career started on the steam tug, FT Bates, as a deckhand. Little did he know at the time what he had let himself in for.

“In 1973 it was a little tough going, as the job demanded a lot of physical labour as there were no mechanical winches like today to assist with the recovery of working lines, which were very heavy wire cable,” he said.

Pilot Bernard Murphy has served TNPA for 41 years.Photos: SUPPLIED

He progressed to work on various floating craft for a number of years. During this time he realised that maritime was his calling and started to study various grades within marine services.

He obtained qualifications as berthing master, coxswain, signal man and pilot boat master.

“There were so many highlights in my career however, the ones closest to my heart include docking the Queen Mary II when she arrived in the Port of PE for the first time. Another was the docking of the MSC Beijing and the MSC Saturn with an overall length of 324m and a beam of 48m.

“I also happened to end up sailing both these vessels. There have definitely been challenges in my career, but nothing is impossible until it is done,” Murphy said.

Captain Brynn Adamson, harbour master at the Port of PE, said, “Murphy’s dedication, not just to his job as a pilot, but also to his fellow mariners has been evidenced by the number of colleagues he has selflessly trained and mentored over the years.

“He has produced GPRs, (general purpose ratings), a pilot boat master, a berthing master, tug masters and pilots.

“Some of these colleagues have further progressed to become deputy harbour masters, harbour masters and port managers.

“He is a true ocean stalwart and we thank him for his service and wish him all the best as he enjoys his new life ashore.”

“The most difficult part about leaving TNPA and my marine family is having to say good bye to those that supported me and fuelled my passion to be at sea. It is not that life ashore is distasteful to me, but life at sea is better,” Murphy said.

Murphy officially retired on December 31, 2019.

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