December 6th & 7th, 2017 • Renaissance Seattle Hotel • Seattle, Washington


Captain Paul Amos

Columbia River Pilots

Captain Paul Amos was born and raised in Denton, Texas. In 1974, he permanently relocated to the Pacific Northwest where he was employed continuously in the tug and barge industry for 16 years. From 1980 to 1990 he worked as captain on towing vessels on the Columbia/Willamette/Snake River system. He has a wide range of experience on various types of towing vessels but the majority of those years were spent on grain barge tows between Portland, OR and Lewiston, ID.


For the last 27 years Paul has been a Columbia River pilot. As a member of the Columbia River Pilots (COLRIP) he served two years as treasurer and was vice president in 1999. He was re-elected as vice president in 2006. Shortly afterward he became president and served continuously in that position through 2014. He was also deeply involved in developing COLRIP’s AIS-based navigation system and continues to work on improvements to that system. He is currently the chairman of the American Pilots’ Association Navigation Technology Committee, is a past chairman of the Lower Columbia Region Harbor Safety Committee and past president of the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association.


Paul is married to a sailor, Della, one of the first women to graduate from Kings Point Merchant Marine Academy. He has three adult children and lives in Vancouver, WA.

Jorge Arroyo

US Coast Guard

Jorge Arroyo is a native of Chicago, Illinois. He joined the United States Coast Guard in 1980 and in the subsequent thirteen years served as a commissioned officer with assignments and duties in recreational boating safety, search and rescue, vessel traffic management, polar icebreaking, ship and shore-side operations. He was project officer in more than two dozen regulatory projects including the 1986 Summer Olympic yachting events and US vessel traffic service rules.

After a five year hiatus, he returned to the US Coast Guard as a civil servant in 1999 and is currently a program and management analyst in the Office of Navigation Systems at USCG Headquarters in Washington, DC and the USCG’s regulatory project officer and subject matter expert for Automatic Identification System (AIS) and e-navigation. He is also a US delegate to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Navigation Sub-Committee and chair of its Drafting Group of the IMO AIS Aids to Navigation Guideline;  a member of various navigation working groups of the International Electrotechnical Committee (IEC) and Radio Technical Committee for Maritime Services (RTCM); and past vice-chair of the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (AIS) working group, and current vice-chair of the IALA e-Navigation Committee.

Mr. Arroyo obtained a bachelor of science from the University of Illinois, juris doctor from DePaul Law School in Chicago, Illinois, and has sailed the seven seas and made land-fall on every continent.

Bill Benning

Marine Exchange of Alaska

Bill is a 23-year veteran of the US Coast Guard (1979 to 2001) specializing in communications, security, and environmental response. Bill has been on staff at the Marine Exchange of Alaska since December of 2001 and currently serves as its chief, technology officer. He has been involved with Alaska communications for over 30 years and implemented the Marine Exchange’s comprehensive AIS and weather station network established at more than 130 locations around the state.


Upon his retirement from the US Coast Guard’s 17th District Headquarters as the telecommunications manager, Bill was cited for meritorious service for his exceptional initiative and technical knowledge in providing comprehensive communications coverage to the Alaska maritime community in its harsh and challenging environment. He has been a licensed merchant marine officer since 1994, and he currently holds a 100 ton master’s license.
Bill has been married for 34 years and is the father of four wonderful young men. He currently resides in Juneau, Alaska, where he is an avid outdoorsman, enjoying and protecting all that Alaska has to offer.

George B. Burkley

Maritime Pilots Institute

Mr. George Burkley serves as the executive director of the Maritime Pilot’s Institute (MPI) in Covington, Louisiana. MPI specializes in training, research and technical projects for maritime pilots. The school operates both electronic simulation and physical modeling training and research facilities. George is a graduate of the California Maritime Academy and completed his master’s work at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He served as an aviator in the US Naval Reserve and sailed for Masters, Mates and Pilots as a ship’s officer. His background includes seven years as an instructor and developer of training programs and technical systems at the Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies in Baltimore and twelve years in New Orleans working with ship pilots.


As director of MPI, George has designed and supervised the construction of a fleet of 1/25th scale maritime manned models, and a number of simulation installations, to support pilotage training. He is currently engaged in projects with manned model training and research, hydrodynamic ship modeling, simulation development, electronic navigation systems research, portable piloting units training and various training programs for pilot groups. George is married with three children in high school and resides in Covington, LA.

RDML Mark H. Buzby, USN (ret)

Maritime Administrator

Rear Admiral Mark H. Buzby was appointed by President Donald Trump and sworn in as maritime administrator on August 8, 2017.  Prior to his appointment, Buzby served as president of the National Defense Transportation Association, a position he has held since retiring from the US Navy in 2013 with more than 34 years of service.


A 1979 graduate of the US Merchant Marine Academy, RADM Buzby earned his bachelor of science in nautical science and US Coast Guard third mate license. He was commissioned in the US Navy in June 1979, is a graduate of the Joint Forces Staff College and holds master’s degrees from the US Naval War College and Salve Regina University in strategic studies and international relations, respectively.


Buzby commanded destroyer USS Carney (DDG 64), Destroyer Squadron THIRTY-ONE, Surface Warfare Officers School Command, and Joint Task Force GUANTANAMO BAY.  As a junior officer, Buzby served on USS Connole (FF1056), USS Aries (PHM 5), USS Yorktown (CG 48), USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) and USS Shiloh (CG 67) primarily in operations and combat systems billets.  In 1985, he was the Atlantic Fleet Junior Officer Shiphandler of the Year.


Ashore, he served on staffs of SIXTH Fleet, US Fleet Forces Command, the Navy staff, and the Joint Staff. RADM Buzby served as the commander of the US Navy’s Military Sealift Command from October 2009 to March 2013.


RADM Buzby’s personal awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (four awards), Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (five awards) and various other unit and campaign awards.

Bill Cairns

American Pilots’ Association

Bill Cairns is the navigation technology director of the American Pilots’ Association (APA). Prior to his move to APA in 2014, he served as senior technology advisor in the Office of Navigation Systems at US Coast Guard Headquarters and also served in the offices of Communications and Maritime Domain Awareness. He was the chairman of the IALA e-Navigation Committee from its creation in 2006 through 2014. He has led several IMO correspondence and working groups including Pilot Transfer Arrangements, Navigation Bridge Visibility, and LRIT. He served 20 years on active duty in the US Coast Guard as a commissioned officer in a variety of engineering jobs, including shipboard assistant engineer and chief engineer. He is a fellow of the Royal Institute of Navigation and a member of the White House Military Aides Association.

Captain Eric A. Chamberlin, USCG (ret)

Holland America Group

Eric Chamberlin assumed the position of vice president, marine services for the Holland America Group on January 1, 2017. He oversees marine operations for the Holland America Group, ensuring safe, efficient, effective and environmentally sound operations for 35 ships. In addition to the oversight of the Princess, Holland America Line and Seabourn fleets, Eric is responsible for the oversight of the fleet operations center, emergency preparedness and response, fuel management and stability.


Eric has been with the Holland America Group for five years working in several positions including being director, fleet FOCUS where he worked to standardize and align processes, procedures as well as improve efficiencies across the fleet operations enterprise. He also was director, HESS management system where he oversaw the development and implementation of the Carnival corporate standard HESS system for the Holland America Group ships. His initial position with Holland America was director, systems management and development where he oversaw the safety and environmental management systems for Holland America Line and Seabourn as well as the emergency preparedness and response for both brands.


Prior to joining Holland America Line and Seabourn in January, 2013, Eric served in the US Coast Guard with more than 28 years of commissioned service, retiring with the rank of captain. Serving both afloat and ashore, he commanded several cutters including the USCGC MELLON homeported in Seattle, WA.

Steve Danscuk

US Coast Guard

Steve Danscuk currently serves as the chief, Prevention Operations Planning Branch, Preparedness Division, on the staff of the commander, USCG Pacific Area, Alameda, CA. He was a USCG active duty officer until he retired in 2004 after serving more than 25 years on active duty in the Coast Guard with a career emphasis in marine safety. His current duties include managing a 7-person staff in the development, management and oversight of all prevention operations. Immediately prior to his current assignment, he served as chief, Inspection/Investigation Branch, Prevention Division, USCG Pacific Area. In that capacity he provided program level oversight for commercial vessel safety missions, developed policy and implemented guidance for the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002, and the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS). He managed and led the development, implementation, measurement, and refinement of Pacific Area strategies and activities in support of the USCG’s performance goals to maximize vessel mobility within ports and waterways and to provide port safety/security in support of national defense. He served as the regional focal point for the Marine Transportation System (MTS) initiative, and coordinated regional policy and activities in support of USCG Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection (AT/FP) initiatives. After the 9/11 events, he was extensively involved in port security/maritime security planning and response efforts.


In addition to numerous military awards, he is the recipient of the vice president’s Hammer Award, two Department of Transportation Secretary’s awards (Team Award and Excellence), and two Department of Homeland Security Secretary’s Team Awards for Excellence.

Cato Eliassen

Konsgsberg Seatex

Cato Eliassen has the role of product manager for the business area Navigation and Infrastructure in Kongsberg Seatex. He was a project manager from 2002 to 2015 and has mainly been working with AIS products, navigation products, DGPS reference stations and corresponding infrastructure projects around the globe. He was educated at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (MSc) and at the RNoN Naval Academy. He served in the Navy for nearly nine years. The last two years as a squadron leader and lieutenant-commander for the HSC Combat Boats in the RNoN.

Michael Fitzgerald

USDOT Maritime Administration

Michael Fitzgerald attended the United States Merchant Marine Academy and during his studies there sailed onboard commercial. After graduating in 2011, he was commissioned in the US Navy and served as a nuclear qualified surface warfare officer serving onboard the USS Vicksburg (CG 69) and USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), and at the Military Sealift Command’s Operation Directorate.


After leaving active duty, Michael accepted an engineering position at Maritime Administration’s (MARAD) Ready Reserve Force (RRF), where he was involved in several issues including leading the cybersecurity effort for the RRF.  He recently accepted another position with MARAD’s Office of Safety. He has earned a master’s degree in engineering management and is currently working on a master’s degree in mechanical engineering.

Captain Mark H. Grosshans

Foss Maritime

Captain Mark H. Grosshans is a 37-year Foss veteran based in southern California. Captain Grosshans has been sailing as “master in command” for 34 years and continues to sail on a regular basis. In addition to his USCG merchant mariner credential he holds a Master 2 certificate issued by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority. He has served on the USCG Towing Safety Advisory Committee (TSAC) for six years and is currently on the committee #16-03
“Recommendations on the Towing of Liquefied Natural Gas Barges.”


He has towed throughout the Pacific, to Central and South America, the Pacific Islands and Alaska. He has logged about a dozen trips through the Panama Canal, towed recently on the West Coast of Australia, up in the Arctic and in the Russian Far East. He currently operates a tug on regular supply runs to the military bases on San Nicolas and San Clemente Islands.


Captain Grosshans is a 1980 graduate of the California Maritime Academy. He is a Fellow of the International Tug Master’s Association (FITA), an Associate Fellow Nautical Institute (AFNI), a USCG designated examiner and registered as a “towing subject matter expert” by the USCG.

Christian Hempstead

Hempstead Maritime Training, LLC

Christian Hempstead, Master Mariner, MA, trained at sea as a youth and at US maritime academies. He sailed 19 years as junior and senior deck officer with SeaRiver Maritime Inc. (formerly Exxon Shipping Co.) on all manner of tank vessels, including 5 years responsible for type-approved ECDIS and other electronic chart systems as watchstanding navigation officer. Upon coming ashore in 2000, he was an instructor and developer at PMI & MITAGS in Seattle for 4 years, followed by 9 years as a professor at United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA). As director of nautical simulation there, he built 5 labs with 90 visual ownships, and led a curriculum change to Integrated Navigation. Since 1999 he has been developing and delivering navigation and simulator training in the Americas. He was author of the first approved ECDIS course in the US, and later of the first certified ECDIS course at US maritime academies. He was the principal contributor to the ECDIS training requirements in the STCW 2010 Manila Amendments, and is the author of the revised ECDIS Model Course 1.27 (2012 edition). Now based in the Seattle area, he manages his consultancy Hempstead Maritime Training, LLC full time. His ongoing training innovations include designs and implementation of ECDIS simulation and integrated navigation training environments, advising on simulator training methods in the US and abroad, trainer training in ECDIS instruction and simulator-based instruction, onboard type-specific ECDIS training, and some STCW courses.

Captain Håkan Heurlin

Swedish Maritime Administration

Captain Håkan Heurlin is working in the Research and Innovation Department (RID) in the Swedish Maritime Administration (SMA). His main task in RID is to be a sub-activity leader for the voyage management activity (a 300 ship testbed) in Sea Traffic Management (STM). Prior to his move to RID in 2015, he served as a full-time pilot at the Stockholm pilot station (also SMA) from 2008 until 2015, now he is only a part time pilot during peak season.


Captain Heurlin has served in all positions from OS to captain onboard various vessels, mainly passenger ships, dating back to a first officer assignment in 1992. Håkan has been working as a simulator instructor in SMAs simulator, training new pilots. He also worked for two years as a teacher (nautical instruments and COLREG) and simulator instructor in one of Sweden’s merchant marine academies. In SMA he is also one of the members of the Portable Pilot Units (PPU) group, where he recently had a leading role in defining the requirements for an update of the PPU to be used by Swedish pilots.

Christine Klimkowski

Pacific Maritime Institute

Christine Klimkowski is an instructor and curriculum developer at MITAGS-PMI’s West Coast campus. After graduating from SUNY Maritime College in 2001 she sailed on deep draft container ships and Ro-Ros for 8 years. She teaches many courses including the full slate of “Officer in Charge of a Navigation Watch” courses. She has continued to ship and upgrade while teaching. She upgraded to unlimited master in 2015 and has been accepted as an apprentice with the Southeast Alaska Pilots. Her last ship was the R/V Thomas G Thompson, sailing as chief mate.

R. David Lewald

US Coast Guard Headquarters

David Lewald is a navigation systems and aids to navigation specialist for the US Coast Guard.  He served for 30 years on active duty in the USCG with 25 of those years spent afloat aboard numerous cutters in all positions including command. He has been a USCG civilian employee since his retirement in 2014. David’s responsibilities include advisory and consultative services to USCG programs and managers on a broad range of navigation matters that involve legacy and future state technology. He serves as an advisor and subject matter expert to the director of Marine Transportation Systems on digital and electronic navigation matters and systems, including electronic chart systems (ECDIS\ECS), automatic identification system (AIS), integrated navigation systems (INS), integrated bridge systems (IBS), navigation sensors (e.g. Radar, GPS, etc.), and electronic aids to navigation.


David serves as a navigation systems technical expert to standards development organizations such as International Maritime Organization (IMO), International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA), Committee on the Marine Transportation System (CMTS), International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), National Marine Electronics Association (NMEA), and Radio Technical Commission for Maritime Services (RTCM).

Captain Kip Louttit, USCG (ret)

Marine Exchange of Southern California

Captain James Kipling (Kip) Louttit was appointed as the executive director of the Marine Exchange of Southern California in January 2013. A graduate of the United States Coast Guard Academy, he served the United States Coast Guard (USCG) for 30 years prior to retiring with the rank of captain. Captain Louttit’s experience includes 10 years at sea in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the Bering, Mediterranean, and Caribbean Seas. He had six years in command of three different Coast Guard cutters and two years as commanding officer of USCG Integrated Support Command in San Pedro. Following retirement from the Coast Guard, Captain Louttit worked for two consulting firms on Coast Guard and Pentagon work.


Captain Louttit was a Sloan Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and holds master’s degrees from MIT and Golden Gate University. He is an avid and active sailor with extensive experience in off-shore races, and has been invited to speak at seminars on safety at sea and ocean cruising. He serves as a scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts of America, and enjoys leading Scouts on outdoor and community service activities.

Kathy J. Metcalf

Chamber of Shipping of America

Kathy Metcalf was appointed the president and CEO of the Chamber of Shipping of America (CSA) in June 2015. Prior to that time, she served as CSA’s director of maritime affairs from 1997 to 2015. CSA is a maritime trade association which represents a significant number of US based companies that own, operate or charter oceangoing tankers, container ships, and other merchant vessels engaged in both the domestic and international trades. CSA represents maritime interests before Congress, federal and state agencies and in international fora.


Prior to coming to the Chamber of Shipping, Kathy served in various positions in the energy industry including deck officer aboard large oceangoing tankers, marine safety and environmental director, corporate regulatory and compliance manager and state government affairs manager. Kathy is a 1978 graduate of the US Merchant Marine Academy (BS in marine transportation and nautical sciences) and a 1988 graduate of the Delaware Law School (JD).

Peter Philips

Philips Publishing Group

Peter is the president of Philips Publishing Group, publishers of trade journals for the maritime and transportation industries. In the years since Philips Publishing was founded by Peter’s father in 1983, the company has grown to become the largest maritime and transportation publishing house on the West Coast. Titles include Pacific Maritime Magazine, aimed at West Coast commercial vessel and terminal operators, FOGHORN, the official publication of the Passenger Vessel Association, Clipper Vacations Magazine, published for Seattle’s Clipper Navigation, Catalina Express Magazine, published for Catalina Express, Pacific Fisheries Review and Fishermen’s News, the oldest commercial fishing publication on the Pacific Coast.


In addition to publishing trade journals, Philips Publishing also specializes in creative design services for the maritime and transportation industries, with clients across the country. Peter is the immediate past president of the Seattle Marine Business Coalition, which represents the interests of marine industrial land users. Peter is past president of the Port of Seattle Chapter of the Propeller Club, and past regional vice president, West Coast, of the International Propeller Club. Peter has a BA in history from Whitman College, and has been employed in the maritime publishing field since 1985.

Gurpreet Singhota

Swedish Maritime Administration

Mr. Gurpreet Singhota is a master mariner with 14 years of seagoing experience, including six years of command experience on a variety of vessels, complemented by an MSc degree course at Cranfield University (1984-1986), United Kingdom. Mr. Singhota is an Ex-Dufferin, having taken his training aboard the TS Dufferin (1968-1970).


Mr. Singhota worked with IMO (United Nations), London, United Kingdom over a period of more than 26 years.  He retired as deputy director/head, Operational Safety Section, Maritime Safety Division and secretary of the Sub-Committee on Safety of Navigation (NAV) with responsibility for both the NAV and the Sub-Committee on Radio Communications Search and Rescue (COMSAR) including the development of an e-navigation Strategy Implementation Plan (SIP) plus the review of the Global Maritime Distress Safety System (GMDSS).  This involved dealing at an international level on matters related to safety of navigation, radio communications, search and rescue including the establishment of the Long-range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) of ships system. Important achievements have included: assisting in the revision of SOLAS chapter V (Safety of Navigation); guiding the development of IMO’s e-navigation strategy, development of the Polar Code; development of the ISPS Code; and active participation in IMO’s activities related to maritime security and the prevention of piracy and armed robbery against ships.


In addition, many technical advisory missions to various member governments were undertaken on maritime safety issues. In 2011, he was specifically deputed by the secretary-general of IMO to advise the Indian government on improving navigational safety for Mumbai and Nhava Sheva ports.


Mr. Singhota has additional experience in the technical co-operation and the marine environment divisions, which involved technical assistance to developing countries including oil spill preparedness and response advice.


Mr. Singhota retired in October 2013, and since March 2015 he has been retained by the Swedish Maritime Administration (SMA) as a senior adviser for the MONALISA 2.0 project and the follow-up Sea Traffic Management (STM) Validation Project. He is also advising the SMA, Danish Maritime Authority and the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, Republic of Korea in the establishment of a global e-navigation test bed.


In parallel, during the period February to July 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, The Hague, The Netherlands appointed him as an international navigational safety expert to assist the Arbitral Tribunal in its consideration in respect of an arbitration commenced by the Republic of the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China concerning the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea.


He is a fellow of the Nautical Institute, London, United Kingdom, and in April 2014 he was invited to become a member of the Greenwich Forum, United Kingdom – a maritime think tank.


Mr. Singhota has had various papers published on maritime safety and marine pollution issues.

Mike Sollosi

US Coast Guard

Mike Sollosi has served in the US Coast Guard since 1976 as a commissioned officer and as a civil servant. In the beginning of his Coast Guard career he worked in the aids to navigation field, including service on buoy tenders in the North Atlantic and Alaska. He is now chief of the Navigation Standards Division in Coast Guard Headquarters. In this capacity he has responsibility for vessel traffic services policy, navigation equipment standards and the navigation rules. He served as a member of the US delegation to the International Maritime Organization’s Safety of Navigation Subcommittee for several years and was elected chairman of the subcommittee for five years. Mr. Sollosi has more than 20 years of experience in the operation, administration and management of vessel traffic services, with service ranging from watchstander to program director, including the chairmanship of the VTS Committee within the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities.

Captain Linda A. Sturgis

US Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound

Captain Sturgis serves as the commander, Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound. She reported aboard from her most recent assignment as the Coast Guard liaison to the US Navy’s Military Sealift Command located at the Washington Navy Yard.


While attending Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, Captain Sturgis enlisted in the Army Reserve in 1988 and served with the 88th Military Police Company at Fort Eustis attaining the rank of sergeant. After completing her undergraduate studies at Old Dominion University in 1992, Commander Sturgis transferred from the US Army to the US Coast Guard and received her commission from Officer Candidate School in 1993. She received her master of marine affairs from the University of Washington and was assigned to the Center for a New American Security, a Washington DC based think tank where she published on marine spatial planning, Arctic maritime challenges, and port resiliency.


Captain Sturgis’ assignments include Coast Guard Headquarters, Office of Health and Safety; Office of Resource Management, deck watch officer on Coast Guard cutter Mellon (WHEC 717) home ported in Seattle, WA; marine inspector at Marine Safety Office Miami; chief Port State Control/foreign vessel inspections at Marine Safety Office Puget Sound; program reviewer at Coast Guard Headquarters, Office of Budget and Programs; commanding officer at Marine Safety Unit Cleveland; and prevention department head at Coast Guard Sector New York.


Captain Sturgis has earned four Meritorious Service Medals, the Coast Guard Commendation Medal, two Coast Guard Achievement Medals, two Letters of Commendation, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, as well as several personal and Coast Guard unit awards.

Brian Tetreault

US Army Corps of Engineers
CMTS Future of Navigation Interagency Action Team

Brian Tetreault is a navigation systems specialist for the Army Corps of Engineers Research and Development Center. He has worked on projects to develop and implement shore-based navigation information systems to improve safety, efficiency, and reliability of inland and coastal waterways. He is a US representative to national and international e-navigation-related bodies, including the World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure (PIANC), International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA), International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), the Radio Technical Commission for Maritime Services (RTCM), and is the co-chair of the US Committee on the Marine Transportation System (CMTS). He is a graduate of the United States Coast Guard Academy, served in the Coast Guard for 22 years at sea and ashore, and holds an Unlimited 2nd Mate and a 1600 Ton Master license.

RDML David G. Throop

US Coast Guard

Rear Admiral David Throop serves as the commander of the Thirteenth Coast Guard District headquartered in Seattle. He is responsible for all Coast Guard operations throughout the Pacific Northwest which includes protecting life and property, enforcing federal laws and treaties, preserving the living marine resources, and promoting national security.  The Thirteenth District spans over the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana and includes more than 4,400 miles of coastline, 600 miles of inland waterways, and a 125 nautical mile international border with Canada.


In addition to maintaining operational control over all Coast Guard activities in the district, Rear Admiral Throop is responsible for cultivating efficient and effective relationships with numerous other federal, state, and local agencies, elected officials, the tribal nations located in the Pacific Northwest, and with the Coast Guard’s international counterparts.


Earning his naval aviator wings in 1988 at Naval Flight Training in Pensacola, Florida, his operational aviation assignments include tours as the commanding officer of Air Station Cape Cod, Massachusetts; commanding officer of Air Station Traverse City, Michigan; operations and executive officer at Coast Guard Air Station Savannah, Georgia; H65 helicopter standardization and instructor pilot at the Coast Guard’s Aviation Training Center in Mobile, Alabama; and as a duty pilot at Coast Guard Group/Air Station San Diego, California.


A native of Burton, Michigan, RDML Throop graduated from the US Coast Guard Academy with a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering. He has a master of public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a master of arts in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College.


His personal awards include three Legions of Merit, five Meritorious Service Medals with “O” device, the Coast Guard Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Coast Guard Achievement Medal, and various unit and service commendations. He has accumulated over 3,900 flight hours and has an FAA commercial pilot’s license in both fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft.

Captain Edward J. (EJ) Van Den Ameele


Captain Edward J. (“EJ”) Van Den Ameele is the chief of the Coast Survey Development Laboratory within NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey. The work of the Coast Survey Development Lab includes looking at new methods of obtaining and delivering high resolution bathymetry to support NOAA’s nautical charting program, and furthering the use of autonomous systems to acquire marine environmental data, to the development of hydrodynamic models that provide forecast guidance to the nation’s shipping community and coastal managers. Captain Van Den Ameele has 24 years of service with the NOAA Commissioned Corps, where he has spent the majority of his career in hydrographic surveying, marine operations and technology implementation, and business process improvements.


Prior to joining the Coast Survey Development Laboratory, he was commanding officer of NOAA Ship Rainier, where he was captain and chief hydrographer of a 231-foot, 1600-ton vessel with 55 personnel conducting state-of-the-art, shallow-water, multibeam and side-scan sonar hydrographic surveys for nautical charting applications in remote regions of coastal Alaska, including the Arctic. He has also served aboard NOAA Ship Mount Mitchell, Surveyor, and Fairweather. His previous assignments include serving as chief of business operations at NOAA’s Marine Engineering Branch, in Newport, Oregon, and as the chief of the Coast Survey’s hydrographic systems and technology programs. He has also held assignments at the Atlantic Hydrographic Branch in Norfolk, Virginia, and the Pacific Hydrographic Branch in Seattle, Washington. He holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, a master’s certificate in technology management from the University of Washington, and originally is from Ridgefield, Connecticut.

Captain Jorge J. Viso

American Pilots’ Association

Captain Jorge Viso was elected president of the American Pilots’ Association (APA) in 2016. Prior to being elected APA president, Captain Viso served in numerous other leadership positons, including vice president of the APA’s South Atlantic States; vice president, then president of the Florida State Pilots’ Association; and chairman of the Tampa Bay Pilots’ Association.


After completing an enlistment in the US Coast Guard (1978-81), where he served aboard two cutters and advanced to quartermaster second class, Captain Viso earned an appointment to the US Merchant Marine Academy at King’s Point. He graduated from King’s Point in 1985 with a degree in marine transportation and nautical science.  Upon graduation, he was commissioned as an ensign in the US Naval Reserve and was licensed as third mate of steam and motor vessels by the US Coast Guard. He served as a pilot in the ports of Tampa Bay, Florida from 1990 through 2016. Prior to becoming a state-licensed pilot, Captain Viso briefly served aboard harbor tugs, before sailing deep sea on chemical, product and crude oil tankers. In addition to his Florida State pilot license, he holds US Coast Guard credentials as master of steam and motor vessels (limited tonnage) and chief mate of steam and motor vessels (unlimited tonnage). He also holds a federal first class pilot endorsement for the waters of Tampa Bay and its tributaries.


Captain Viso also served as chairman of the APA’s Navigation and Technology Committee (NAVTECH) from 2002 until taking office as APA president. As NAVTECH chairman, Captain Viso not only facilitated dialog among the nation’s professional maritime pilots on portable pilot units (PPUs) and other navigation technology matters, he also worked with local and federal officials on navigation policies and infrastructure support, wrote numerous articles in maritime trade journals, and was a frequent speaker at national and international navigation technology and pilotage conferences.


In addition to various leadership positions held within national, state and local pilots’ associations, Captain Viso served as vice chairman of the Florida Board of Pilot Commissioners, executive board member of the Harbor Safety and Security Committee of Tampa Bay, and as an instructor at the Maritime Institute of Training and Graduate Studies (MITAGS), as well as at the Maritime Pilot’s Institute (MPI).


Captain Viso is the recipient of numerous awards, including the US Coast Guard Public Service Commendation, the US Coast Guard Certificate of Merit, and the Outstanding Professional Achievement Award for the US Merchant Marine Academy.


Captain Viso, born in Illinois, was raised in Miami, Florida. He and his wife, Ana Maria, have three children, Alexandra, Jorge, Jr. and Daniella.


The American Pilots’ Association is the national trade association of professional ship pilots. Its membership is composed of more than 50 groups of state-licensed pilots, comprising over 99% of all state pilots in the country. All three groups of United States registered pilots in the Great Lakes are also APA members. There are approximately 1,200 individual pilots in the APA member pilot groups. The APA was established in 1884 to protect and improve the state pilotage system, to maintain the highest possible professional standards for licensed pilots in the United States, and to promote navigation safety.

Captain Paul A. Willers

International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots

Captain Willers spent 20 years sailing as a master with Sealand, US Ship Management, and Maersk Line Limited, retiring from the International Organization of Master, Mates and Pilots in 2015. His maritime career spans forty-five years, sailing on geared and ungeared container vessels, LASH vessels, break-bulk vessels, chemical/crude oil tankers, tugboats, rig boats, and car and passenger ferries.


He is currently a part-time instructor at the Pacific Maritime Institute in Seattle for SCTW courses, and a member of the Council of American Master Mariners, Puget Sound Chapter.


Captain Willers graduated in 1976 from the United States Merchant Marine Academy with a bachelor of science degree in nautical science with an emphasis in marine transportation and a minor in management.