New Metal Shark duo speeds Lower Miss. pilot transfersMar 31, 2020 04:43 PM
Jet 1, a new addition along with Jet 2 to the Belle Chasse Marine Transportation fleet in New Orleans, displays its speed on the Mississippi River.
Belle Chasse Marine Transportation (BCMT) began operations in 1977 on the Mississippi River with one crew boat. In November, Metal Shark added two 45-foot Defiant-class pilot boats to the company’s fleet, the latest acquisitions in four decades of growth.
Jet 1 and Jet 2 joined more than 40 crew boats, supply boats, pushboats and barges distributed among seven launch sites stretching from Pointe a la Hache, La., at mile marker 53, to Convent at mile marker 165.7.
Under a threatening January sky, BCMT Port Capt. Royce Hammer and Capt. Scotty Assavedo steered the stealth-gray Jet 1 into the river from the company’s New Orleans dock. Hammer pushed the throttles forward, the bow rose and the speedster reached 37 knots in no time.
“The boat is very responsive,” Hammer said. “And with the jets, you don’t have to worry about bending wheels.”
Propelled by twin Cummins QSM11 diesel engines coupled to HamiltonJet HJ322 waterjets, Jet 1, sleek of line, is every bit as fast and maneuverable as the boat looks.
“The boat is very responsive,” says BCMT Port Capt. Royce Hammer, at the helm of Jet 1. And by employing waterjets, “you don’t have to worry about bending wheels.”
Hammer added that the waterjets provide better fuel economy, require less service and create less drag. “We’re still working it out, but I’d say we are burning at least 30 to 40 percent less fuel,” he said.
Although designed and built by Metal Shark to meet the demands of transporting pilots and personnel to and from commercial vessels, the newcomers provide a broad range of launch services.
As with many Metal Shark designs, the twin jet boats have a distinct military look, and they sport many safety and comfort features. The pilothouse has expansive visibility with the company’s “pillarless glass” windows, shock-mitigating seating for a crew of five, and anti-fatigue floor covering throughout.
Below deck there is a galley, enclosed head compartment, V-berth and a large walk-in storage compartment.
The swim platform on the jet boat’s stern deck allows for safer and more efficient operations compared to propeller-driven craft. There is also a Jason’s cradle, dive ladder and Wing foam collar fendering.
The pilot boat holds station as Capt. Chris Johnson boards Resolute Bay.
The vessels feature a rooftop pilot boarding platform, with port and starboard boarding platforms on the foredeck along with an integrated stairwell. Grab rails are logically placed to facilitate the safe and secure transfer of personnel.
Hammer and Assavedo had hardly finished docking Jet 1 after a quick run when they got a call to transfer Capt. Chris Johnson of the Crescent River Port Pilots. With the pilot aboard, Hammer turned the boat, hit the throttles, and in a matter of minutes Johnson boarded the bulk carrier Resolute Bay about six miles downriver.
“This boat really speeds up the turnaround time,” Hammer said.
Shawn Konrad, president and chief executive officer of BCMT, said Metal Shark designed and built a fast, great-handling boat, with an extremely comfortable house.
“As we experience high river more often, our customers, particularly river pilots, are demanding faster boats,” he said.
As Hammer steadies the boat, Capt. Scotty Assavedo steps to the foredeck to direct Resolute Bay’s crew to lower the ship’s gangway.
Twin waterjets leave their mark as Jet 1 gets up to speed. The stern is topped by a large, easily accessible swim platform.
Jet 1 specifications
|Owner/operator: Belle Chasse Marine Transportation, Harahan, La.
Designer/builder: Metal Shark, Jeanerette, La.
Dimensions: L: 45’ B: 13’ D: 2’6”
Crew size: Five