Retirement & Another end of an Era

Mike (right) receives a retirement present from his colleagues presented by River pilot John Sheridan

Mike Kitchen (London)

August saw the retirement of Mike Kitchen after 50 years of service at sea. For the London pilotage district, Mike’s retirement also marked the end of an era since he had been the last remaining pilot to have originally been authorised by Trinity House.

Following pre-sea training at Reardon Smith Nautical College Mike joined his first ship on 9th August 1961 and having obtained his Master’s certificate in 1973 he commenced his pilotage career in 1976 in Dar es Salaam followed by Montrose until 1979 when he transferred to Harwich becoming authorised by Trinity House as a Class 4 pilot for London Sea Pilot (North) in 1980.

Piloting all the various ship types serving London and the Northern Thames Estuary ports, Mike progressed to become an “Inner List” pilot in 1987 serving the largest tankers. 1987 also saw him as duty pilot in Harwich on the 15th    October when the hurricane struck causing carnage within the harbour!

The 1987 Pilotage Act also created a storm by transferring responsibility for pilotage authorisations from Trinity House to the Port of London Authority (PLA). Mike decided to remain as a London pilot where he continued to pilot all classes of vessel up to his retirement.

In 1990 Mikes passion for steam engines saw the delivery of two old steam locomotives into Tilbury, one of which he has been restoring himself ever since.

As well as piloting and restoring steam engines, Mike was also involved in many of the pilotage committees, in particular as Secretary and Chairman of the Pilots national Committee for Pensions (PNCP) from 1981 to its closure in 2004.

Recognition of Mike’s long career as a pilot was  provided by a concerto of tug horns blowing as he passed on his final pilotage passage and he was presented with a painting by his colleagues at a subsequent retirement party where all wished Mike and his wife a long and happy retirement.                      JCB


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