Pilots, Fire, Patrol

This has been a busy year for small aluminum, pilot, fire, research and patrol vessels, highlighted by the delivery of a new fireboat for Portland, Maine, and the launch of a state-of-the-art vessel for the New York Fire Department.

Maine’s largest city and busiest port has just taken delivery of a new 65-foot fire and emergency medical response vessel. City of Portland is the fourth Portland Fire Department boat to bear that name; its predecessor is 50 years old.

Before the new boat arrived, the department had to rely on the previous City of Portland solely for firefighting and on the 44-foot Cavallaro as a fast rescue boat. “They each did the job tremendously,†said the new fireboat’s captain, David Pendleton, “but they couldn’t do both.†At 17 knots, the new boat will improve response to calls in the harbor and medical emergencies on the nearby islands in Casco Bay. It will serve double duty as fireboat and emergency medical services provider.

The new City of Portland was built in Meteghan River, Nova Scotia, by A. F. Theriault & Son Ltd. The city chose the Canadian yard after seeking bids from New England yards. Only one responded, and the price was beyond the city’s budget. The vessel cost about $3.2 million; the Department of Homeland Security kicked in $1 million, a federal port security grant accounted for $450,000, and the balance came from city funds.

City of Portland, the new fireboat for Portland, Maine, can deliver 3,000 gallons a minute and spray fire-suppression foam onto surfaces such as pilings. Propulsion comes from twin Caterpillar C12s delivering 454 hp at 2,100 rpm.

The new boat is based on a 55-foot design by Vancouver marine architects Robert Allan Ltd. It is designed as both an advanced firefighter and a seagoing ambulance. The medical bay is set up to mirror the layout and equipment placement found in the city’s ambulances so emergency services personnel will have a seamless transition when aboard.

Firefighting equipment includes remote and manually controlled monitors with pumps capable of delivering 3,000 gallons per minute and the ability to spray sophisticated new fire-suppression foams that adhere to surfaces such as pier pilings. The main monitor is an FFS 600, with FFS 300 stern deck monitors and FireFox and Apollo monitors on the bow. The Hale fire pump is powered by an Iveco 770 diesel, and the vessel’s internal fire-suppression system is an FM200 from Tyco.

For main propulsion there are twin Caterpillar C12s, each delivering 454 hp at 2,100 rpm. The gearboxes are ZF 305 A’s turning 29-inch Ellis propellers. As a result, the new boat is not only faster than the old boat, but more maneuverable as well. For auxiliary power the genset is driven by one Caterpillar C2.2 marine diesel. Fuel capacity is 472 gallons.

The superstructure for Drake, the 104-foot pilot boat under construction for the San Francisco Bar pilots, on its way to join up with the hull.

City of Portland was completed in 20 months, although plans to replace its predecessor have been in the works for nearly 20 years. Cavallaro, which was commissioned in 1993 and does not have firefighting capabilities, will continue in service as a backup. The fate of the old fireboat has not been decided.

Next up in the world of fireboats: two 140-foot high-speed vessels from Eastern Shipbuilding for the New York City Fire Department capable of pumping about 50,000 gpm, the equivalent of about 50 city fire engines. The first, named 343 in honor of the number of firefighters and paramedics who lost their lives in the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, was launched Sept. 11. As with the Portland boat, the designer is Robert Allan Ltd.

Pilot boats
The leading East Coast builder of pilot boats, Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding of Somerset, Mass., currently reports four boats under contract, a 75-footer for Lake Charles, a 70-footer for Galveston, a 53-footer for the Maryland pilots and a 52-footer for the Freeport pilots in the Bahamas. But this year has also seen some interesting developments on the West Coast, where Kvichak Marine Industries of Seattle secured a contract for three 72-foot vessels for the Rotterdam pilots and Foss Maritime is just completing a new 104-foot station boat, Drake, for the San Francisco Bar Pilots.

Foss Maritime has a history of building tugs for its Seattle-based parent company, but Tim Stewart, new construction manager at Foss Rainier Shipyard in Rainier, Ore., said the interior finish resembles a yacht more than a workboat. “The vessel is built for more comfort because it must meet the needs of pilots and its crew while they remain on station in all manner of weather and for long hours awaiting ships on the Pacific Ocean 10 miles outside the San Francisco Bay bar,†said Bruce Sherman, a Foss spokesman.

That meant a lot more detail work in and around living spaces than you normally would find on a harbor tug: a thoroughly equipped galley and heads with showers, including the piping to support them, as well as well-appointed berth areas, lounge areas with a flat-panel TV screen, AV systems and other amenities. The boat is designed to accommodate eight pilots and four crewmembers.

The hull and house were built separately at the yard and were united on its shipways on Aug. 14. Sea trials were to begin on Sept. 23, and the boat was to be delivered at the beginning of October. “It’s not finished yet,†Stewart said in early September, “but the outcome looks good.â€

Drake is a sister vessel to San Francisco, one of two pilot boats built by marco Shipbuilding in Seattle in 2000-01. Marco closed in 2005.

For propulsion the new boat is equipped with twin Caterpillar 3508 marine diesels and two John Deere 4045 65-kW generators for auxiliary power. Total fuel capacity is 8,900 gallons.

Foss Vice President for Shipyards and Engineering Andy Stephens credited the yard’s leadership and 18-worker crew for what he called “a tremendous job in building a high-quality vessel.†The owner’s rep, San Francisco Bar Pilots marine superintendent Chris “CJ†Johnson, said: “The new boat in all areas meets, and in some areas exceeds, the quality of construction of the two existing station boats. It will be a fine boat, one that we are very proud of, and a welcome addition to our fleet.†The new boat is a sister vessel of two built by the since-closed Marco Shipyard in Seattle.

The smaller end of the market: Aluminum Chambered Boats’ new LEV, or Law Enforcemnet Vessel. Boat lengths range from 21 feet to 30 feet.

Law enforcement/first responder
Despite tough economic times, Aluminum Chambered Boats (ACB), of Bellingham, Wash., finds business strong, with a backlog of $17 million in orders that is keeping its 86 employees busy.

The company attributes much of its recent success to the newest addition to its product line, ACB’s Law Enforcement Vessel, or LEV. ACB President Jim Moore said his company has been able to double its capacity and complete most projects in between 90 and 120 days. “We’ve streamlined our production plant, making it an extremely efficient operation,†said Moore.

ACB’s LEV is geared to the needs of law enforcement agencies on coastal and inland waters. The boats range in size from 21 feet to 30 feet. Styles offered include T-top models and full cabin arrangements. The boats are built to accommodate one or two officers and are virtually unsinkable, thanks to a unique hull design that is equipped with a foam, air or foam-hybrid fendering system. Options vary with the mission at hand.

ACB’s current customers include the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Marine Corps, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Coast Guard, and many of its other boats are in safety-critical commercial applications. According to Lea Morton, a marketing spokesperson, the company has the expertise in technology, engineering, design, and construction to build an LEV that will meet any needs — and bring its occupants home safely.

All law-enforcement models offer unobstructed 360-degree visibility, shock-absorbing helm seats, and dry storage for weapons, communications equipment and emergency medical gear. A variety of propulsion packages are available.

The company’s 26-foot T-top model recently completed a marketing tour of 11 states, during which it was evaluated, sea trialed and tested by law enforcement groups including the Colorado River Law Enforcement Association and the International Association of Marine Investigators.

The LEV’s fendering system is foam, or foam hybrid. The cabins feature shock-absorbing helm seats and there is a dry storage for weapons, communication gear and medical gear.

In Canada, Victoria Shipyards secured a C$19.6 million contract to build five high-speed, self-righting 46-foot lifeboats for the Canadian Coast Guard for delivery by March 2011. Malcolm Barker, the shipyard’s vice president, was quoted in the Canadian press as saying the vessels would have an extended cruising radius and were designed for severe conditions. “They can go out when no one else would even think about going out,†he said.

Research vessels
Kvichak Marine Industries has delivered Bay Hydro II, a new hydrographic survey vessel with an overall length of 54 feet, to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for work in the Chesapeake Bay. The vessel will collect oceanographic data critical to safe navigation and environmental protection. According to Mary Glackin, NOAA’s deputy under secretary for oceans and atmosphere, “Bay Hydro II serves as NOAA’s ‘eyes’ to the sea floor of the Chesapeake Bay.â€

Kvichak Marine Industries’ Bay Hydro is a 54-foot foil assisted catamaran for research in the Chesapeake Bay, The cat has a 3-foot by 7-foot moon pool cut through the main deck amid-ships.

NOAA plans to use the research vessel as its primary platform to evaluate emerging survey technologies. One example is the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, or AUV, a torpedo-shaped robot that is programmed to guide itself through the water and collect data from the sea floor.

In addition to state-of-the-art survey electronics, the aluminum research vessel, which has a 20-foot beam, is equipped with a 2,000-pound capacity A-frame stern davit. Designed as a foil-supported catamaran, the vessel provides a fast and stable working platform, and a shallow draft of 4 feet 6 inches makes it ideal for work in the bay.

Propulsion comes from twin MTU 6062 HK31 marine diesel engines rated at 740 bph at 2,300 rpm each. ZF 350A transmissions drive two five-blade Michigan propellers. For auxiliary power there are two 12-kW Northern Lights gensets and a 52,000-BTU HVAC system to keep the crew comfortable all year. •