GEAR | Volvo Penta IPS selected for China, Norway, US pilot boats

Volvo Penta IPS-equipped Kewatec pilot boat (Photo: Volvo Penta)

Volvo Penta’s Inboard Performance System (IPS) has been installed on three different pilot boats currently in operation in China, Norway, and the United States. Although the environments in these countries differ greatly from each other, the system’s array of life- and task-enhancing advantages are all nonetheless maximised to provide increased safety for pilots and operators alike.

Fangcheng Port, Guangxi, China

A pilot boat at Fangcheng Port, Guangxi, China (Photo: Volvo Penta)

In southwest China, two 20-metre, all-aluminium pilot boats operating out of Fangcheng Port in Guangxi province are each equipped with a Volvo Penta IPS900 – a complete, integrated Volvo Penta system from the joystick to the forward-facing counter-rotating propeller arrangements. All of its power is concentrated on propulsion, delivering optimum forward and reverse manoeuvrability via its individually steerable hydrodynamic drive pods, and even enabling the boat to run with just one engine.

Further, turbulence is greatly reduced and thrust massively increased, guaranteeing better stability and wave resistance, which the crews claim are particularly beneficial when managing heavy swells alongside large ships or when operating in heavy storms.

Tromsø, Norway

The Volvo Penta IPS also offers improved efficiency and lower emissions, claims Knut Charles Olsen, a pilot boat skipper for Buksér og Berging AS (BB) based in Tromsø, Norway. The two Volvo Penta D13 engines powering his boat are capable of achieving 30 per cent lower fuel consumption compared to other marine engines. Part of this improvement is due to the enhanced manoeuvrability, which helps to improve acceleration, while noise and pollutant emissions are also lower than those from traditional inboard propulsion boats the company previously operated.

The reduction in fuel consumption is significant in light of the fact that the boat captained by Mr Olsen covers around 42,000 nautical miles in each year of operation.

Virginia, Maryland and Louisiana, USA

A Virginia Pilots Association pilot boat (Photo: Volvo Penta)

Meanwhile, on the US Atlantic Seaboard, maintenance access and comfort enhancements enabled by Volvo Penta IPS have also become popular among customers. Seaway Pilots, the Virginia Pilots Association, the Maryland Pilots Association, and the Associated Federal Pilots of Louisiana have all recently ordered new Volvo Penta-powered vessels from Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding.

With Volvo Penta IPS, the propellers and drives are close coupled to the engines, providing a compact structure that allows the deckhouse on each boat to be located further aft on the flush deck, thereby improving comfort and creating a larger foredeck and more enclosed space. This configuration also permits easier access to the machinery space via deck hatches located aft of the wheelhouse.

“We had to be thorough due to the demands of our operation,” said Jay Saunders, harbour pilot with the Virginia Pilot Association. “We typically perform between 6,000 and 7,000 pilot boardings every year. There’s little to no leeway for downtime. We had to be sure that we had a system that was safe, reliable, easily serviceable and had high performance.”

Mr Saunders said he and his companions have become convinced the Volvo Penta IPS satisfactorily met all those criteria.

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Baird Maritime Gear Editor

The latest maritime gear and service news from across the globe.