U.S. Senator Chris Coons met with the president of the Pilots' Association for the Delaware River & Bay Captain Jim Roche on Friday afternoon to discuss shipping and commerce activities along the Delaware River. During the visit, the Senator and pilots discussed the impact that the dredging of the Delaware River would have on maritime traffic coming into and leaving the Port of Wilmington.
"Delaware River and Bay Pilots are a highly skilled group of American Maritime Officers who work diligently to ensure that the ships navigating our waterways are doing so safely and efficiently," Senator Coons said. "I enjoyed meeting with the pilots today and hearing their ideas for improving traffic flow and increasing commerce in the Delaware River. Our state's history is closely tied to our waterways, and I applaud the pilots continued work to improve one of the largest industries in Delaware."
Senator Coons has been an outspoken advocate for the deepening of the Delaware River. Earlier this year, he joined several of his colleagues in introducing a bipartisan amendment for the FY2012 appropriation bill, which sought to increase funding for ongoing navigation projects. The final FY2012 appropriations bill included $74 million for the account, which was used to fund the Delaware River deepening, as well as other projects across the country.
Senator Coons also joined with some of his colleagues in sending letters to the Assistant Secretary of the Army-Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy and the Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob Lew in December asking for additional funding for the deepening project.
The Port of Wilmington generated more than 4,300 direct jobs and nearly 12,500 related jobs in 2011. By deepening the river by 45 feet, it is estimated to create up to 75,000 direct and indirect jobs for the Delaware River region.
The Pilots' Association for the Delaware River & Bay has been in existence since 1896 and currently has nearly 80 pilots on staff who sail foreign ships, and non-Coast Guard certified American crews up the river. All foreign ships are required by law to stop outside of Lewes and take on a Delaware pilot who sails the ship up the river. If the ship has an American crew, that crew can sail up the river only if they have passed a Coast Guard exam.