It’s a Chesapeake-class design from C. Raymond Hunt Associates in New Bedford, Mass., and the third Chesapeake-class pilot boat sent from Gladding-Hearn to the Delaware pilots. The first one was delivered in 2004 and the second in 2006.
Though Gladding-Hearn sent the first of its revised Chesapeake Bay-class to the Tampa Bay Pilots Association this past October, the Delaware pilots stuck with the older design.
“They wanted what they already have,” said Peter Duclos, Gladding-Hearn’s president. “Pilots are very traditional and slow to change. They want to see [how the new design performs]over several years.”
That doesn’t mean there aren’t differences between the new Delaware pilot boat and its predecessors. The engines in the two older pilot boats are Daewoo diesels. “But those engines didn’t make the cut for EPA Tier 3,” said Duclos.
So a pair of 651-hp Volvo-Penta D16 engines are in the J.P. Virden. They are matched up with ZF 500-1-A marine gears and 5-bladed nibral props. That power package pushes the new pilot boat up to 26 knots.
The Volvo-Penta engines are bigger than the Daewoo diesels and cold-water aftercoolers were needed to meet Tier 3 emission standards.
“It was a challenge getting the engines into the boat,” Duclos said.
Because the Delaware pilots sometimes operate in ice, keel coolers were required for both engines and the aftercoolers. “The keel coolers for the aftercoolers were almost twice the size of the keel coolers for the engines,” said Duclos.
Since the Delaware pilots will probably be repowering their two other Chesapeake-class pilot boats in a couple of years with the Volvo-Penta package, Duclos said, “from the very beginning, as we were designing the new boats, we were also designing the repower.”
Another feature on the J.P. Virden that’s not on the previous two Chesapeake-class pilot boats for Delaware is the Humphree Interceptor automatic trim optimization system. “For boats in the 25-knot-plus range, there’s definitely a payback in fuel,” Duclos said.
The Humphree system automatically optimizes the trim of a boat at a given speed or for a given fuel load. That allows pilots to have different trim tab settings at different speeds and when going upwind and downwind. Though the automatic feature can be overridden to manually control the trim tabs.
Gladding-Hearn has three more of the original Chesapeake-class pilot boat designs to build. One is going to the Lakes Pilots Association in Port Huron, Mich., another to the Sabine (Texas) Pilots, and the third to the Mobile (Ala.) Bar Pilots. — Michael Crowley