Watson, 72, maritime pilot leader, advocate, dies

Watson, 72, maritime pilot leader, advocate, dies

Captain Michael R. Watson, president of the American Pilots Association died July 23, 2015. He was 72.

Captain Michael R. Watson

Watson was a member of the piloting profession for 45 years, getting his start in the Association of Maryland Pilots in 1970, serving as president from 1982-2000 and concurrently as vice president for the North Atlantic region. In 2000 Captain Watson was elected president of the APA and won reelection in 2004, 2008 and 2012. 

Watson was also a member of the International Maritime Pilots’ Association where he was elected vice president in 2002 and became the first American president of the group in more than three decades with his election to the post in 2006 and reelection in 2010 before stepping down in 2014.

“Captain Watson was a true friend to pilots throughout the U.S. and the world. But he was more than a friend, he was a strong advocate and steady voice for the piloting profession.” APA Executive director-general counsel Paul Kirchner said, “He worked tirelessly to find ways to enhance pilotage requirements and standards, as well as to advance the standing of pilots within the maritime industry. His strong hand on the rudder will be sorely missed by so many.”

As head of the APA, Watson served as a representative as a member of U.S. delegations to the International Maritime Organization and also led IMPA delegations to the IMO.

Watson graduated from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point in 1965 and served as an Ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve where he began his maritime career by serving on U.S. Military Sealift Command ships ferrying troops to Vietnam.

Captain Watson was born in Washington, D.C. on  February 13, 1942 and is survived by his wife of 45 years; Geraldine, two daughters Natalie and Alicia Watson; son-in-law, Charles Walker; and grandson, Alexander Watson.

Funeral arrangements and memorial services have not yet been announced.