The Pilots’ Association of the Bay and River Delaware have ordered a 54' pilot boat from Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding, Duclos Corp.

It’s the Lewes, Del.-based association’s fourth Chesapeake-class launch and 11th pilot boat built by the Somerset, Mass., shipyard since 1957. Delivery of the new pilot boat is scheduled for 2024.

Since the Chesapeake-class pilot boat was introduced by Gladding-Hearn in 2003, 28 have been delivered or are under construction for 15 U.S. pilot associations.

The deep-V hull was designed by Ray Hunt Design. The new all-aluminum 53.6'x17.8' launch has a 4.9’ draft. The boat will be powered by twin Volvo Penta D16 diesel engines, each rated at 651 mhp at 1,800 rpm. Top speed will reach over 25 knots. The engines will turn 5-bladed Bruntons propellers through ZF 500-1-A gear boxes. A Humphree interceptor trim control system, with its automatic trim optimization, will be installed at the transom.

The vessel’s wheelhouse, with a small trunk, will be installed amidships on a flush deck. It is designed with electrically heated forward leaning front and side windows for deicing and four tinted windows on the roof. The wheelhouse has the helm station on center with the Volvo Penta EVC electronic control system and a luggage rack forward. Aft of the helm station are four Stidd Systems reclining seats and another luggage rack. The forecastle includes an upholstered settee and a hanging locker for exposure suits.

The decks and exterior handrails will be heated to minimize ice formation from flying spray. A three-zone hydronic cabin, deck heat, and handrail heating system will be installed to circulate heated water through tubes fastened below the main deck, handrails and through three fan-coil units — two in the wheelhouse and one in the forecastle. Treated water will be heated by a 120,000 Btu Espar hydronic 35 diesel-fired “boiler” and main engine waste heat. An auxiliary AC heater will be installed in the wheelhouse to heat the vessel while on shore power.

A control station will be located at the transom. A rotating pipe davit will be welded to the deck at the forward end of the rescue recess in the boat’s transom. A self-tailing, two speed manual winch will be mounted, along with a Naiad Dynamics mate saver rescue noose, to aid in retrieving a pilot.