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Captain Dan Gallagher


Lakes Pilots Association, Inc.
Port Huron, Michigan
33 years in the Industry

Captain Dan Gallagher

A love of the water is in Dan Gallagher’s blood. A grandfather, uncle and brother served as captains on Great Lakes vessels. After high school graduation, Gallagher attended the American Maritime Officers Academy in Toledo, Ohio. In 1983 he received his 3rd mates license and then wrote his 1st class pilot masters license at the Academy.

Gallagher’s nautical experience has run the gamut from deckhand to watchman to wheelsman with the Huron Cement fleet. He also spent a year with the American Steamship Company, but returned to Huron Cement where he left as a captain in 1997. Since 2003 he has been President of Lakes Pilots Association, Inc.

The married father of three boys calls Fort Gratiot, Michigan home – when he’s on land. For the past 33 years, Gallagher has spent most of his time as a working pilot – out for 10 hours a day, or for several days at a time. Pilots are on call 24/7 and their job has been required by law since the St. Lawrence Seaway opened in 1959. The Lakes Pilots Association provides intra-lake navigation aid from Port Huron to the Welland Canal – which includes the St. Claire River, Lake Erie, the Detroit River and all ports in between.

“I love being a pilot – the challenge of maneuvering large ships through the water is very rewarding. Also, we meet very diverse ethnic groups in the course of our job – it’s like going to a different country every day,” says Gallagher.

In his leadership role, Gallagher has worked with the industry over the past six years to enhance safety through the use of laptops for the pilots onboard ships. This electronic navigation aid allows the pilots to assess the water depth, locate the buoys, and know how close the nearby ships actually are.

Captain Dan also instituted a program called “Touch A Freighter” which gives the public and school kids an opportunity to see a Great Lakes vessel up close. Begun in 2008, this innovative program provides the chance for landlubbers to think about a life on the sea.