Norfolk boat builder unveils boat set to break industry boundaries.

Published on: 11/06/2019

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A ground-breaking vessel in the vanguard of transforming pilot boat technology is preparing to make its maiden voyage from its Norfolk workshop to a new home in the capital. 

Leader, the UK’s first hybrid pilot boat, has been built by Goodchild Marine Services Limited for the Port of London Authority in a deal that paves the way for dynamic improvements to the carbon footprint of cutters. 

The order was placed as part of the PLA’s commitment to promoting the adoption of new, green technology in the recently published Air Quality Strategy for the Tidal Thames, the first of its kind for any UK port. This strategy aims to reduce river-based air pollution whist also facilitating future growth of waterborne freight and passenger transport. 

The parallel hybrid pilot boat combines both diesel and electric power and has been designed to be completely emission free whilst operating in electric mode. Marine and Industrial Transmissions Limited (MIT) and its manufacturing and technology partners, Transfluid, have partnered the project by providing the plug-in hybrid system, alongside E P Barrus Ltd., suppliers of the Yanmar inboard diesel engines.

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The twin Yanmar 6LY400 common rail engines were modified by the Barrus Special Products Division to suit Leader and operate on a 24v system with electromagnetc water pumps driven from the engine. The operating system on both engines was converted from 12v to 24v twin pole, isolated return and a large Jobsco electromagnetic water pump was fitted to both engines on custom-built support brackets designed in-house. 

Both engines are controlled by Yanmar’s VC10 flyby wire system with the integration of Transfluid’s control head. The control head has been specifically adapted to operate both the engines and hybrid system from the touch of a button. 

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Goodchild Marine’s flagship ORC range is renowned for its unique beak bow hull design, making it lighter and more capable of higher speeds. Leader is expected to reach up to 15 knots under hybrid power and the Yanmar engines achieved 19 knots at 3300 RPM during sea trials. 

Alan Goodchild, Managing Director at Goodchild Marine commented: “The project has been a privilege and an honour. There are other hybrid boats on the market but, to the best of my knowledge, there isn’t another one like this.” 

The vessel will be used by PLA for the transfer of pilots to and from vessels in Gravesend Reach and will make its debut at Seawork International where it will be officially handed over to the PLA.  

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