Metal Shark has delivered two new pilot boats to New Orleans-based Belle Chasse Marine Transportation LLC (BCMT). Both vessels are now operating on the Mississippi River, providing service to BCMT’s Port of New Orleans clients.
Designed in-house by Metal Shark and built at the company’s Jeanerette, La., production facility, Jet 1 and Jet 2 are 45' welded aluminum Defiant-class monohull pilothouse vessels featuring an proven hull design, according to shipyard officials. The vessels feature a deck arrangement designed for pilots and customized to meet BCMT’s specific requirements.
Like all of Metal Shark’s Defiant-class pilot boats, the climate-controlled pilothouses of BCMT’s new vessels feature Metal Shark’s signature pillarless glass for improved visibility, in a reverse-raked arrangement developed specifically for pilot operations. Visibility is further augmented by the vessel’s elevated, centerline helm position, and large overhead skylights that provide upward visibility while approaching and operating alongside moving ships.
Fully flush non-skid decks allow for unimpeded access around the vessel, and hand rails have been placed within easy reach of all crew, inside the cabin and outside on deck, at all times. Low-level LED pathway lighting enhances safety during nighttime operation. The vessel’s large, functional swim platform, plus easily accessible Jason’s cradle, dive ladder, and throwable life rings, are intended to assure quick and safe crew retrieval in the event of a man overboard situation.
Designed in close collaboration with BCMT, the new vessels feature a unique rooftop pilot boarding arrangement with retractable platforms allowing for both port and starboard pilot boardings. Lower forward port and starboard platforms and integrated foredeck stairwell, all with carefully placed grab rails, allow for safe and secure transfer in the widest possible range of scenarios.
Powered by twin Cummins Marine QSM11 diesel engines coupled with HamiltonJet HJ322 waterjets, Jet 1 and Jet 2 demonstrate pinpoint maneuverability while delivering a cruise speed in excess of 30 knots and a top speed in the 40-knot range. A urethane-sheathed, closed-cell foam Wing collar provides durable and resilient fendering. Shock-mitigating seating has been provided for a crew of five, and anti-fatigue floor covering has been provided in the pilothouse and the belowdecks crew spaces. Additional features include a galley, enclosed head compartment, V-berth, and large walk-in mid-cabin storage compartment.
“By combining our military-proven hull designs with modern, crew-friendly features, we are delivering smarter and more user-friendly pilot boats that simply work better than the industry’s legacy product offerings,” Metal Shark’s CEO Chris Allard said in a statement announcing the delivery. “We continue to task ourselves to deliver improved platforms that deliver improved comfort, efficiency, reliability, and safety to our customers.”
“These two new vessels are part of Metal Shark’s fully-realized, next-generation pilot boat lineup that now includes 38’, 45’, 50’, 55’, 64’, and 75’ offerings,” said Metal Shark’s vice president of commercial sales, Carl Wegener. “Like the other Metal Shark pilot boats now in service, these newest vessels represent the latest thinking in pilot boat design. We invite pilots from coast to coast to visit us at the upcoming International Workboat Show in New Orleans, where we’ll be showing off one of these new Belle Chasse pilot boats.”