QPS’ relationship with Sabine Pilots began in 2005, when Captain Duane Bennett first contacted QPS at the start of his global search for hardware and software solutions for Portable Pilot Units (PPUs). Captain Bennett was working hard to pioneer the advantages of carry-on electronic navigation systems, starting personally with a small Bluetooth GPS receiver in January of 2006.
Captain Bennett’s initial trial with Qastor led to the purchase of two licenses, used initially with QPS' Qonnector and later with AD Navigation's ADQ1 portable wireless AIS pilot plug communication devices.
Over the next few years Sabine Pilot feedback led to improvements in the software that benefited pilots worldwide, including: significant revision of meeting point prediction computations needed for long winding river stretches with limited passing opportunities; integration of NOAA PORTS data into the QPS Connect Server, thereby providing real-time, location specific tide and current information, displayed both numerically and graphically; and marking of 'no-go' areas with encroachment alarm messages.
In 2007, Hurricane Ike hit Texas, and Captain Bennett suffered severe loss, including his home, his computers and navigation equipment.
The loss may have set him back, but did not stop Captain Bennett. Post-hurricane, the Sabine Pilots were centrally involved in opening up shipping channels with Captain Bennett utilizing a loaner combination of Qastor/Harbourpilot Lightweight (HPL), delivered by Navicom Dynamics (ND). By year end, QPS was in discussion with the Pilots and ND to provide 30 PPU systems, ND providing the hardware (HarborPilot Lightweight and AISPilot) and QPS supplying Qastor, Connect and laptop computers. In addition to each pilot's personal license Qastor was installed in both the dispatch office and on their two pilot boats.
Today, Sabine Pilots hold close to fifty licenses of Qastor, with dispatchers holding shifts to cover 24 hours a day, seven days a week shifts, using a 42” display to keep track of AIS targets, and all of their pilots using PPUs. At peak season there can be as many as 20 ships daily or over 2,500 ships yearly to safely schedule and maneuver through the waterways. The safety and environmental integrity of The Sabine Neches Waterway is the responsibility of Sabine Pilots, where more than 125 million tons of cargo is transported each year resulting in the waterway being referred to as an economic lifeline for the US. The Sabine Pilots also serve the shipping industry and public ports of Beaumont, Port Arthur and Orange as well as private oil terminals and the industrial complex of Southeast Texas, USA.
Their Association must be recognized and commended for being one of only a few American pilot organizations leading the way to adoption of electronic navigation systems in the United States.
"The Qastor program not only assists the pilots with safe navigation on a daily basis, but also serves as a useful tool in providing information to all the dispatchers to make better and more accurate decisions when scheduling vessel traffic." Chief Dispatcher, Daniel Dubois.