Canaveral Pilots Association, Port Canaveral, Fla., has partnered with naval architecture firms Glosten, Seattle, Providence, R.I., New Bedford, Mass., and Ray Hunt Design, New Bedford, Mass., on a pilot/demonstration project for the design, construction, and operation of an electric pilot boat. The boat will feature a battery-electric propulsion system with an emergency “get home” diesel engine. Once in service, it will serve as one of two primary boats for supporting pilotage operations in Port Canaveral.
During the feasibility-level engineering, the team established that a Ray Hunt hull form outfitted with a Glosten-designed battery propulsion system will achieve the speed and operating range required to support normal pilotage operations in Port Canaveral.
"We are happy with how this is taking shape," Morgan Fanberg, president of Glosten, said in a statement announcing the construction plan. "Ray Hunt brings a wealth of knowledge on planing hulls and pilot vessels, specifically. Combining that with our own experience in electric propulsion systems, we hope to provide an excellent working solution for Canaveral Pilots."
Specific design details remain confidential at this stage, but the minimum performance criteria established by Port Canaveral included a cruising speed of 18 knots and an operating range (on battery propulsion only) of 24 nautical miles.
Currently, there are no pilot boats operating in the U.S. with hybrid or fully electric propulsion systems.
"The technology isn't necessarily new. The challenge is managing total weight in relation to the hull form and the required operating profile," said Winn Willard, president of Ray Hunt. "Because we are seeing a growing interest in such vessels, it made sense to partner with Glosten to work through those technical challenges."
With feasibility-level engineering now complete, the next step for the Glosten-led team is the development of a draft program for the pilot/demonstration project to be used for federal and/or state grant funding solicitations.
"We are excited to forge ahead with Glosten and Ray Hunt on this project," said Brendan McMillin, co-chairman of Canaveral Pilots. "This presents an opportunity not only to reduce some of our maintenance and operating costs, but to demonstrate that electric propulsion can be adopted by marine pilot associations on a broader scale."