When it came time to replace their 50-year-old station vessel New York, the Sandy Hook Pilots Association thought long and hard, weighing their options to determine the best possible solution. They traveled the country, to Houston, San Francisco and up to the Columbia River, and even to Europe—the Elbe River in Germany and Rotterdam in the Netherlands—to ride with other pilots in search of an answer.
“We looked at everything from SWATH (small-waterplane-area twin hull) boats to helicopters to big boats in Europe, and ultimately came to the conclusion that we were going to stay with a large boat operation,” said Ed Burns, marine superintendent for the Staten Island-based pilots group, which provides pilotage services to all foreign flag vessels and American vessels under register entering or departing the Port of New York/New Jersey, the Hudson River, the East River, Atlantic City, Jamaica Bay and Long Island Sound.
After determining the $30 million price tag for a potential newbuild would be too steep, the pilots began their next search mission: tracking down a vessel that would be the perfect conversion candidate. “We stumbled across the Maine Responder laid up in Portland, Maine and made the decision that it would probably be a good fit for us,” Burns said.