Goodchild taking the lead on hybrid pilot boat

The first day of Seawork marked a milestone as Goodchild Marine Services Limited showcased ‘Leader’, the UK’s first hybrid pilot boat built for the Port of London Authority (PLA).

The ground-breaking ORC 136 is a parallel hybrid pilot boat which combines both diesel and electric power and is designed to be virtually emission free when operating in electric mode, paving the way for dynamic improvements to the carbon footprint of cutters.

The deck of the boat was packed with key stakeholders who had come together to bring this vessel to a reality. Marine and Industrial Transmissions Limited (MIT) and its manufacturing and technology partners, Transfield were partners in the project, providing the plug-in hybrid system, alongside E P Barrus, suppliers of the Yanmar engines.

The order was placed as part of 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 a UK port. The strategy aims to reduce river-based air pollution, while also facilitating future growth of waterborne freight and passenger transport.

Alan Goodchild Managing Director of Goodchild explained: “This boat is designed to be used 90% in electric mode, therefore saving 90% of emissions. The vessel is also an ORC design which itself is 40% more fuel efficient than other counterparts.

The market is definitely going hybrid and with environment pressures forcing this decision, the development of technologies and major advances are being made almost weekly. As builders we want to be seen as pioneers of designing suitable craft to meet this demand.”

Bob Baker, Chief Harbourmaster of PLA explained how the boat will work for them: “The main benefit for us is the air quality side as we’re the first port authority in the UK to publish an Air Policy Strategy. We’ve worked closely with Mayor of London and London councils as we work with operators to improve the environmental performance of vessels on the Thames.”

Further sea trials are due to commence before the vessel is delivered.

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