Harbour Services Australia puts a second, ultra efficient pilot boat to work in Fremantle
Dongara Marine has delivered a second Berkeley Class pilot boat to the port of Fremantle. Named Genesis it joins Berkeley, which has been operating with great success in the Western Australian port since 2015.
Whereas the earlier delivery is owned by Fremantle Pilots, Harbour Services Australia (HSA) acquired the 19.4 metre long Genesis to join its fleet of 18 work boats. Ranging from six metre punts and mooring / lines boats up to a 21 metre cargo, crew transfer and dive/survey vessel, the fleet includes craft that have been adapted from other roles such as police patrol boats, fishing vessels, and purpose-built pilot boats. Genesis is the first significant newbuild the company has commissioned.
Our Managing Director Rohan Warr says the new pilot launch shares the basic traits that have seen operators describe the Berkeley Class as the ‘Rolls Royce of pilot boats’.
“High open water speed for fast transits, extreme stability, and confirmed self-righting are all hallmarks of the Berkeley Class, but it is arguably the high levels of seakeeping and manoeuvrability that contribute most to the pilot boat design maximising overall operability, as well as the safety and comfort of pilots and crew, even in challenging offshore seas.”– Rohan Warr, Managing Director, Dongara Marine
Southerly Designs designed the aluminium hull specifically for demanding conditions, leveraging experience spanning many decades designing literally hundreds of high speed fishing, patrol and offshore crew boats.
“The hull design combines a long waterline, fine entry and highly flared bow with twin keels and twin, over-size rudders that reduce roll and increase both directional stability and manoeuvring performance,” Warr explained.
“This is combined with a resiliently mounted composite superstructure, the low weight of which also contributes to stability and operating efficiency, while simultaneously enhancing habitability through reduced noise, vibration, and heat transfer.”
Impressed with these core qualities, as well as Dongara Marine’s high quality boatbuilding, HSA approached us about a variant tailored to its own specific requirements and preferences.
HSA’s Operations Manager, Eddie Wolsoncroft, said those initial discussions proved to be a template for the working relationship from that point onwards.
“Rohan and the guys were extremely receptive to our inputs throughout. We have a lot of knowledge, and our own preferences relating to how things should be, and so does the Dongara Marine team. So we would always discuss the pros and cons of various details to develop the best solution.
“They had a real ‘can do’ attitude throughout, and even when they didn’t necessarily agree with my preferred approach they were willing to accommodate my various quirks,” Wolsoncroft said.
Wolsoncroft is quick to point out that the changes from previous Berkeley Class boats were purely preferential.
“We have seen the earlier boats, in particular Berkeley which we see performing outstandingly day in, day out here in Fremantle.
"We’ve also looked at other new pilot boats – and indeed we operate some former pilot boats – but it was clear to us that the WA-built vessel was the right platform for us, in particular due to its superior dryness.”– Eddie Wolsoncroft, Operations Manager, Harbour Services Australia
A number of HSA boats are Scania-powered, some as the result of repowers, and Wolsoncroft said the excellent results and through-life service from Scania were instrumental in HSA becoming the first operator to select the twin Scania DI16 076M powering option.
Independent side-by-side testing at full scale has previously demonstrated that the Berkeley Class is more fuel efficient than other contemporary pilot vessel designs, even though it is also larger and faster. The performance of Genesis, though, has taken the operating cost savings to another level again.
“As a result of optimising the full system, including engines, running gear, and vessel displacement and trim we are achieving fuel consumption that is about 30 per cent less than earlier Berkeleys at the same operating speed.”– Eddie Wolsoncroft, Operations Manager, Harbour Services Australia
Rohan Warr confirmed the outstanding results. “To be honest we were initially a bit sceptical the numbers we calculated would be achieved, but sea trials verified the savings. Naturally that is a big benefit to operators, especially those like HSA who run lots of hours.”
Genesis runs comfortably at 24.5 knots and achieved 32 knots at full power during trials. Wolsoncroft also noted the ease with which the boat maintains speed in the onshore Indian Ocean conditions they encounter.
“On Genesis you can punch straight into head seas at 22 knots and not even realise you are doing that sort of speed, whereas on some boats you simply have to reduce speed and/or alter course.”– Eddie Wolsoncroft, Operations Manager, Harbour Services Australia
Compared to selecting alternative main engines, the other changes from previous Berkeley Class vessels are far more detailed orientated, with a strong focus on vessel systems engineering.
“Eddie is a marine engineer, and has been with Harbour Services for over 13 years dealing with a really broad mix of boats, so he was understandably particularly focussed on the details of the onboard systems,” Warr explained. “He brought some really good ideas to the table, and we were happy to give him what he wanted.”
“The quality and attention to detail is first rate and while it may take a bit more time and money upfront, it really pays off over the years, because we have the systems arranged so that we can monitor and maintain them really effectively. That, combined with maximised redundancy, helps to ensure we can serve our customers well by providing continuous and reliable service,” Wolsoncroft said.
He points to oversize cooling water inlets; a central fuel filtration station; multiple inspection and flushing points; and electrical cabling that is not only colour coded and tagged but also physically labelled as just some examples of where the build team has gone the extra step to improve the operational and maintenance experience.
Whereas the preceding Berkeley Class (Berkeley and AMG Winyama) are all dedicated to pilot transfers, Genesis has a more diversified role, transferring surveyors, ships agents, crew and, should it be required, pilots between ship and shore. To facilitate this the cabin is arranged with military-grade suspension seats for six passengers and two crew, up from the four pilots of the earlier vessels.
While the layout has changed somewhat, the quality and comfort provided to those onboard has remained at superior levels.
“It’s an extremely high quality build and finish throughout, certainly well beyond what you expect to find in a work boat."– Eddie Wolsoncroft, Operations Manager, Harbour Services Australia
“That quality, the attention to detail, the customer service, and all round ease of getting the boat exactly how we wanted holds great value to us. It’s not easy to find, but we certainly found it with Dongara Marine and the Berkeley Class,” Wolsoncroft concluded.
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