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Two more Trainee Pilots take to the Thames

The UK’s biggest port, Port of London Authority (PLA), is delighted to welcome two new recruits to our team of over 120 experienced pilots.

New PLA Pilots Johnnie Cowie and William Hatch

The completion of berth four at London Gateway is expected in the coming months, which is expected to contribute to a significant increase in trade on the river. In preparation for this and to meet the growing customer demand for pilotage services, the PLA has been continuing to invest in our team of Pilots. 

Embarking on a comprehensive training programme which will equip them for the unique challenges of navigating the Thames, are:

  • William Hatch (right), who began his seafaring career in 2014 with Holland America Line and has since gained valuable experience as Chief Officer on worldwide itineraries with Seabourn Cruises. During this time, he developed a strong interest in channel pilotage and ship handling. Driven by a deep family connection to the PLA and its pilotage history, he is looking forward to contributing to the safe navigation of vessels through the Thames.
  • Johnnie Cowie (left) started his career at sea with Maersk, sailing on tankers and container ships worldwide, working his way up to 2nd Officer on their tanker fleet. He then moved to work on an offshore supply vessel as 2nd Officer rising to Chief Officer with SBS Marine, where he worked on the East coast of India and in the North Seak, before moving to Gulf Offshore as Chief Officer and Master. His shore-based career started in 2019 when he took up a role as Deputy Harbour Master and Pilot at the ports of Ayr and Troon with ABP on the West Coast of Scotland. Continuing work in the Ports and Harbours sector he moved to the East Coast of Scotland as Marine Manager in Leith, then Harbour Master of Forth and Tay with Forth Ports.  He is now looking forward to returning to Pilotage and joining the PLA.  

Dave Newbury, PLA Marine Pilotage Manager said:

“We are thrilled to have William and Johnnie join our Pilotage team.

“Increasing our talent pool will allow us to sustain a resilient and quality service for our customers and increase the volume of freight transported to this country by river.”

In 2023, the PLA achieved a 99.6 per cent pilotage service level for customers, during which our pilots guided 13,707 vessels along the river and estuary. 

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