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Richard Jacobsen of Jacobsen Pilot Service Dies

Pioneered new safety-enhancing technologies for port pilots

August 26, 2014


Richard J. Jacobsen, former president of Jacobsen Pilot Service Inc. at the Port of Long Beach, died Friday, Aug. 22, at his Palos Verdes Peninsula home. He was 82.

Jacobsen graduated from the California Maritime Academy in 1952, then served in the U.S. Navy where he reached the rank of lieutenant, then he gained experience in merchant shipping, before he came to work with his father, Jacob Jacobsen, at the family business in the mid-1950s. He became president in 1960, leading the company into the containerization era.

Jacobsen Pilot Service provides all port pilots for ships that call at the Port of Long Beach. Port pilots meet incoming ships outside the breakwater, and using their in-depth knowledge of the local harbor and wharves, guide the ships into berth and back out to sea.

“We’re saddened to learn of the passing of Richard Jacobsen, this is a man who was a leader in the industry and most importantly, he is part of the Port of Long Beach family. He will be missed,” said Doug Drummond, President of the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners.

Richard “Dick” Jacobsen was born in San Pedro on Nov. 26, 1931. His parents were Captain Jacob Andrew Jacobsen and Elise Gulbransen Jacobsen, both from Norway. At the age of 5, Dick met future wife Sandy McCracken when they became neighbors growing up in Palos Verdes. 

Dick worked as a port pilot before he became president of the company in 1960. He was well respected as a strong leader, being active in the maritime community and setting new safety standards in the piloting industry. Under his leadership, JPS pioneered the use of new safety-enhancing technologies that subsequently became standard in the industry.

Dick is survived by his wife of 57 years, Sandra, their three children, Katherine Anderson (husband Borgan), Thomas (wife Michele), and Linda Fester (husband Chad), his seven grandchildren and his sister, Andrea Ulin. He was preceded in death by his parents, brother Jack and two sons, Kristian Jacob and Richard Andrew.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the International Seafarers Center of Los Angeles/Long Beach, 120 S. Pico Ave, Long Beach 90802. And, the Assistance League of San Pedro-South Bay, 1441 W. 8th St., San Pedro 90732.

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