Port of PE pilot drops anchor after 41 years of service
Starting out as a deckhand to eventually docking the Queen Mary II, Bernard Murphy is all set to cruise into retirement after working at the Transnet National Ports Authority for 41 years.
Murphy joined the now Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) on January 20 1973.
As an open pilot licence holder, he completed 3,224 vessel movements at the Port of Port Elizabeth and moved a total of 120,121,410 tons.
He also piloted 205 vessels when the Port of Nqura opened in 2009.
“The most difficult part about leaving the TNPA and my marine family is having to say good bye to those who supported me and fuelled my passion to be at sea,” he said after retiring on December 31 2019.
“It is not that life ashore is distasteful to me, but life at sea is better.”
Murphy’s career started on the steam tug FT Bates as a deckhand, but little did he know 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.
Murphy then moved on to work on various floating craft for a number of years.
But during this time he realised that the maritime life was his calling and started to study for various grades within the marine services.
He quickly obtained qualifications as a berthing master, coxswain, signalman and pilot boat master.
“There have definitely been challenges in my career, but nothing is impossible until it is done,” he said.
“There were so many highlights in my career, but 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.
Harbour master Captain Brynn Adamson said Murphy’s dedication to his craft was evident in the number of fellow mariners he had mentored and trained over the years.
“He has produced a pilot boat master, a berthing master, tug masters and pilots,” he said.
“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.”