The Tampa Bay Pilots Association has taken delivery of Tampa, a refitted Chesapeake-class pilot boat built by Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding in 2003, when the Massachusetts shipyard introduced the class of mid-size, high-speed launches.

In 2015, the Tampa pilots also took delivery of the shipyard’s first Chesapeake-class MKII, which incorporates Volvo Penta’s IPS 2 pod system.  

“After 19 years of hard work, the vessel was showing some wear and tear, but she still had a lot of life left so it was definitely worth re-investing in,” Peter Duclos, Gladding-Hearn’s co-president and director of sales, said in a statement. 

With more than 50,000 operating hours, the 53' all-aluminum pilot boat’s twin 600-hp Caterpillar 3406E engines were replaced with a new pair of Caterpillar C18, EPA Tier 3-compliant diesel engines, each delivering 670 hp at 2,100 rpm. The package gives the pilot boat a top speed of over 25 knots. The engines turn new 5-bladed Bruntons propellers via Twin Disc MGX-5136A Quickshift gears. In addition, the pilot boat received a new Seastar Optimus steering system and a new Northern Lights 12-kW generator.

To accommodate the engines, the shipyard modified the launch’s engine beds, hull frames, exhaust systems, cooling and fuel system piping.

Other upgrades included new Norsap 1500 pilot seats, new windows, three new doors to the pilothouse and four new hatch covers. The boat’s bottom, topsides and pilothouse were stripped to bare metal. After some minor plating repairs, the vessel received a fresh coating system.