Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding, Duclos Corporation, recently delivered a 53' Chesapeake-class pilot boat to Bermuda's Department of Marine and Port Services. In 2011, Bermuda took delivery of a 61’ pilot/rescue vessel.

The new all-aluminum St. George replaces the 10-knot steel pilot boat St. George, now renamed Little George, built by the Somerset, Mass.-based shipyard in 1980. With a deep-V hull designed by Ray Hunt Design, the new boat measures 52.11’ overall, with a 15.10’ beam and a 4.8’ draft.

The boat is powered by twin Caterpillar C-18 diesel engines, each producing 670 Bhp at 2,100 rpm. Its top speed is 24 knots. The engines turn a pair of 5-bladed Bruntons nibral propellers through ZF-500-1A gear boxes. The launch is equipped with a 9-kW Northern Lights genset.

With oversized fendering, thicker hull plating and conservatively rated machinery, the new launch was intentionally overbuilt to be heavier than the typical target displacement to improve seakeeping, longevity and reduce maintenance, said Peter Duclos, the shipyard’s co-president.

The mechanical systems, with keel cooling and dry exhaust for the main engines and generator, copper nickel piping for fire, and HVAC seawater piping, also contribute to the vessel’s longevity and low maintenance, Duclos added.

The vessel’s wheelhouse is set aft of amidship on a flush deck. With forward-leaning front windows, the wheelhouse, with a center helm, is outfitted with four Norsap shock-mitigating reclining seats, a baggage rack, settee and cabinetry. The forecastle includes an enclosed head and a split settee/berth with storage below for safety gear. The vessel’s interior is cooled by two 16,000-Btu reverse-cycle Webasto air conditioning units.

Outside, a ladder on the back of the wheelhouse provides access to the roof. A Harken TR-31 safety rail track system has been installed on the wheelhouse handrail. A boarding ladder and a set of recessed steps at the transom assist in pilot rescue operations.

The new boat is similar to the 61' pilot/rescue boat St. Daviddesigned by Ray Hunt Design in 2011. The new St. George complements the Bermuda Branch Pilot Service's two-boat fleet and provides pilotage to all commercial vessels arriving and departing Bermuda.