Dongara Marine’s multipurpose Bulldog

for Pilbara Ports Authority

A versatile new work boat is helping the world’s largest bulk port ensure the ongoing reliability and efficiency of its harbour infrastructure and operations.

Pilbara Ports Authority (PPA) took delivery of Dongara Marine’s first Bulldog Class work boat in mid-2018. It primarily supports harbour maintenance duties within the Port of Port Hedland. However PPA also required it to be suitable for other roles.

“It’s a multipurpose boat, so in addition to maintenance of the berths we use it in areas such as personnel transfer, to support water sampling for environmental monitoring, and, if required, search and rescue and oil spill response.”  

– PPA General Manager Engineering and Infrastructure Charles Kretzmann.

Designed by Southerly Designs, the 6.6 metre long, 2.46 metre wide Bulldog Class provides the deck area, stability, and shallow draft attributes of the tried and tested ‘punt’ style hull but features modified forward sections to reduce resistance and improve head seas performance.

The foredeck, however, provides significant work area an essentially square front that enables the boat to push up against structures without pivoting. Substantial handrails beside the stairs that link the foredeck and the cockpit also enhance personnel safety, with the space below the foredeck providing valuable storage.

Dongara Marine’s multipurpose Bulldog for Pilbara Ports Authority

“A lot of the time we work bow in to wharves, so the foredeck design is really important to us. We are happy with the work area and the handrail arrangement the design provides, and happy with the overall build quality and on-water performance,” Mr Kretzmann said.

The boat’s cockpit comfortably seats four personnel, with the skipper standing aft behind a centreline console housing steering, engine controls, communications and navigation equipment. This includes a seven-inch Lowrance sounder/plotter; UHF and VHF radios from ICOM, and a Simrad AIS.

A solid overhead canopy protects all personnel from the elements, but can be removed when work tasks, such as working closing to or under berths, require reduced air draft.

Also removable is a cargo / equipment davit that can be easily fitted to assist with overside lifting. A sea door in the port side adjacent to the davit makes retrieving objects from the water easier and safer by negating the need to lift over the bulwark. It also makes it easier to retrieve personnel from the water during rescue events.

Aft of the skipper’s position, which includes a bolster-style support, is a tow post that provides the Bulldog class with additional functionality including in emergency response. Reflecting the realities of the hard work the boat will perform, the design includes waterline sponsons and an elevated guard to provide protection for the outboards.

Constructed from aluminium, the boat’s scantlings provide the robustness required for long-term reliability and integrity, with heavy duty HDPE fendering providing further hull protection.

Dongara Marine’s multipurpose Bulldog for Pilbara Ports Authority

The lighter displacement aluminium provides also enables a more favourable combination of speed, power, and thus fuel cost. Fitted with a pair of 60hp Yamaha F60 outboards, the PPA’s Bulldog Class has a maximum speed of 29 knots and cruises at 22 knots.

Off the water, the reduced weight makes it far more practical and efficient to transport by road as well and launch and recover. This is important as the PPA needs to be able to use the new work boat in Dampier, which is approximately 260km from Port Hedland by road. The ability to tow, launch and recover the vessel using a standard boat trailer towed by a mid-size SUV makes this both practical and efficient. Dongara Marine supplied a dual-axle trailer manufactured by Duralite Trailers.

While the Bulldog Class was developed with the requirements of Pilbara Ports Authority to the fore, Dongara Marine and Southerly Designs are confident its versatility will translate to success in other applications.

“Being simple, stable, and robust the Bulldog Class platform can easily take on roles such as dive support, aquaculture, crew transfer, lines handling and other harbour roles.”

– Dongara Marine Managing Director, Rohan Warr.

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