The Southern Ports Authority of Western Australia recently welcomed a new pilot boat into service.
Built by Hart Marine of Victoria, the boat has been named Wardan after the sea water off Wardandi Country, where it will also primarily operate. The vessel’s main area of responsibility will be the waters surrounding the Port of Bunbury, a key import and export facility that serves Western Australia’s mineral sands industry.
Wardan has an LOA of 17 metres, a beam of five metres, and a top speed of 24.6 knots. The lightweight construction guarantees enhanced seakeeping and improved resistance to corrosion while the prominent wave-piercing beak bow reduces vertical slamming and helps ensure a smoother ride even at the high transit speeds at which the boat will normally operate.
The pilot boat design originally developed by French naval architecture firm Pantocarene also possesses self-righting ability, allowing the boat to continue to operate after it recovers from a weather-induced capsizing. Key features include dampers on all ventilation ducts, engine mounts that can withstand complete roll-overs, fuel tanks designed for inversion, and a capstan to hold the anchor chain and warp to prevent damage.
The deck layout provides ample walking and transfer space around the wheelhouse, particularly in front. Safety handrails are strategically placed further inboard including on the wheelhouse exterior. This configuration will enable safe passage along the main deck even in rough seas as well as permit transfers via various points on the deck, unlike in earlier pilot boat designs that restricted boarding only at the bow.
The wheelhouse itself has reverse-angled windscreens to reduce glare as well as upward-facing windows to provide the coxswain with improved situational awareness, especially when manoeuvring alongside larger ships during transfers. The wheelhouse is fitted on suspension mounts so that the transmission of noise and vibration is significantly reduced, minimising crew and pilot fatigue.
The electronics suite includes a Furuno NXT radar and a rotating thermal camera, which will allow the boat to operate even during nighttime or in bad weather.
Wardan was built to have a projected service life of more than 35 years. The boat will undergo additional testing and trials and is scheduled to be formally named in February 2024.