Pilot boat for the high seas

Port of Townsville expands pilot boat fleet

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The new high-tech vessel will be slightly longer but have the same design features as the PV Osprey (pictured).

The new high-tech vessel will be slightly longer but have the same design features as the PV Osprey (pictured).

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A new high-tech pilot boat with the ability to right itself if it capsizes in heavy seas will be added to the Port of Townsville fleet.

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A NEW high-tech pilot boat with the ability to right itself if it capsizes in heavy seas will be added to the Port of Townsville's fleet.

A $3 million contract to build the 17.3m ORC vessel has been awarded to Hart Marine and is due for delivery later this year.

It will take the number of pilot boats at the Port of Townsville, northern Australia's largest multi-cargo port, to four.

The new high-tech vessel would be slightly longer but have the same design features as the PV Osprey which was delivered by Hart Marine in late 2017.

Port of Townsville general manager operations Drew Penny said the new longer pilot boat's advanced technology and design features would make it a vital asset for pilot-transfers at the ports of Townsville, Lucinda and Abbot Point.

"Weather conditions at the three ports that our pilot boats service can be unpredictable, particularly in the wet season," Mr Penny said.

"It is essential that our pilot vessels provide a stable and secure platform for the pilots to transfer to and from ships 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

Every year, the Port of Townsville's pilot boats undertake 1,200 transfers to and from vessels longer than 50 metres that are entering and departing the port. The port's pilot boats travel 139km north to Lucinda and 200km south to Abbot Point to provide the same service to vessels using those ports.

"The pilot boat service that we provide to the ports of Abbot Point and Lucinda adds an extra 700 trips to those that are undertaken at the Port of Townsville," Mr Penny said.

"The extra vessel will allow us to provide a better service at all three ports, with less time spent travelling from Townsville."

Design features to be included in the pilot boat include the ability to right itself if it capsizes in heavy seas. The boat will also have oversized rudders that give it greater manoeuvrability, wide side-decks that provide more room for pilots, as well as a wave-piercing beak bow to minimise pitching.

Hart Marine general manager Graeme Taylor said everything about the new boat met the demands of the work environment of the tropical waters in North Queensland.

This includes a cruising speed of 26 knots, a unique wave-piercing bow design to increase performance and safety, and a suspended wheelhouse that reduces noise and vibration. The result is not only increased crew and passenger comfort, but also a reduced risk of fatigue.

The increased fleet will mean more efficient ship movements, fewer delays and reduced costs for shipping companies.

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