Louisiana-based shipbuilder Metal Shark has delivered a custom welded-aluminum pilot boat to the Brazos Pilots Association in Freeport, Texas.
The new vessel, Brazos Pilot, is a 64' x19' Defiant-class monohull pilot boat designed by Metal Shark and built at the company’s Franklin, La., shipyard. The vessel was christened on Jan. 31 and immediately went into service.
The Brazos Pilot replaces the pilots’ smaller, single-engine 40' pilot boat, improving safety for crews while enhancing service to operators and providing around-the-clock service at Port Freeport. Brazos Pilot was designed by Metal Shark with extensive input from the pilots that resulted in a custom-tailored vessel suited for its specific mission profile.
Key operators who rely on the services of the Brazos Pilots Association include Dow Chemical, Enterprise, Phillips 66, FLNG and BP.
A large, climate-controlled wheelhouse employs the boatbuilder’s signature Pillarless Glas for improved visibility, in a reverse-raked arrangement developed by Metal Shark specifically for pilots. Large overhead skylights provide upward visibility while approaching and operating alongside moving ships. Visibility is further augmented by the vessel’s centerline helm position.
“The 64 Defiant pilot employs a very stout, extensively proven deep vee hull for stable operation in heavy seas,” Carl Wegener, Metal Shark’s vice president of commercial sales, said in a statement announcing the delivery. “The entire vessel has been thoroughly optimized for pilots, with an emphasis on comfort, convenience, efficiency, and safety.”
In the wheelhouse, shock-mitigating seating has been provided for five crew members, with a footrest, cup holder, gooseneck light, and 110V USB plug at each seating position for comfort and convenience. A settee and table are also provided in the main cabin.
An integrated suite of navigation electronics includes GPS, radar, depth sounder, and AIS, which are accessed primarily through three 19" Furuno MU195T multifunction displays. These large touch-screen panels also display real-time video from a FLIR (Forward-Looking Infra Red) M400 thermal imaging system, as well as live onboard video feeds via two closed circuit TV cameras installed in the engine room.
Belowdecks crew quarters are accessed via a stairway in the wheelhouse and a watertight access hatch in the foredeck. Accommodations include a galley area with microwave, coffee maker, refrigerator, and sink; an enclosed head compartment; double-tiered set of lockers for crew storage; and a berthing area with double bunk, drawer storage, and a 4K LED TV with Blu Ray player and KVH TracVision TV3 satellite television system. From the counter tops to ceiling panels and flooring, modern finishes are used to create a bright and airy, comfortable atmosphere for crews onboard for extended periods.
Outside, the 64 Defiant Pilot’s fully flush non-skid decks allow for unimpeded access around the vessel, and hand rails have been placed for easy reach at all times. Low-level LED pathway lighting enhances safety during nighttime operation.
To meet the client’s requirements, a large pilot transfer platform was engineered into the vessel’s foredeck, with a wide, integrated non-skid stairway and specially configured safety rails. “Our in-house engineering team works directly with clients to assure that custom features are incorporated at the design stage and not as an afterthought,” said Wegener. “An example of this is the careful consideration given to the design and integration of the pilot transfer platform to minimize any obstruction to visibility.”
To facilitate operation in close quarters, the vessel has been outfitted with a secondary control station on the aft deck, equipped with steering and throttle controls and a set of digital displays, which allow the operator to monitor engine performance while controlling the vessel from the station.
Main propulsion comes from twin 803-hp Caterpillar C-18 diesel engines coupled to Twin Disc MGX-5146SC transmissions and that turn 5-bladed 36"x43" nibral propellers. Brazos Pilot has a top speed in excess of 28 knots, with a nominal cruise speed of 18 knots.
“This is an extremely efficient hull that surpassed the requirements for the Brazos Pilots and could easily accommodate more power if required to meet the mission profiles of other pilot groups,” said Wegener.