VESSEL REVIEW | Tobin – Mississippi River survey boat for US Army Corps of Engineers

Photo: Silver Ships

Alabama-based Silver Ships recently handed over a new aluminium-hulled hydrographic survey vessel to the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

The 49-foot (14.9-metre) Tobin was custom-designed to perform hydrographic mapping of the mouth of the Mississippi River. This vessel’s name honours Thomas G. Tobin, who worked for the USACE New Orleans District for more than 30 years as an engineer and programmer developing systems that automate the processing and mapping of daily navigation condition surveys collected.

Silver Ships said the mission-specific boat will allow researchers to accurately and effectively obtain and document data on the rapidly changing waters in the Mississippi River. With the intent of keeping waterways open and preventing obstructions to marine navigation, Tobin is equipped to handle challenging river terrain.

Photo: US Army Corps of Engineers/Sye Ellis

The boat’s custom design is fit for conducting river condition surveys to improve the safety of marine operations. A deep-vee variable deadrise monohull ensures a smooth and stable ride while a raised pilothouse provide the coxswain with excellent all-around visibility. As with Silver Ships’ other aluminium boats, Tobin’s hull is designed for strength and durability in fulfilment of American Bureau of Shipping rules for high-speed naval craft.

Power is provided by two Caterpillar C18 engines driving Michigan Wheel propellers via Twin Disc MGX5136RV gearboxes. This arrangement enables the boat to achieve high operating speeds of around 28 knots, which Silver Ships said helps prevent any research delays and inconsistencies that would otherwise be caused by the frequent changes in the condition of the Mississippi River. Ventilation for the engine room is supplied by Delta T Systems while an Arid Bilge Systems vacuum setup helps keep the bilge compartment clean.

The navigation equipment includes a Furuno package consisting of a NavNet black box, two multi-touch monitors, a DRS6AX radar, an FA-170 AIS, and an SC70 satellite compass that also provides speed over ground information. Furuno also supplied the communications system complete with VHF and GMDSS radios. A Teledyne Marine Echotrac E-20 survey system that includes a single-beam echosounder is utilised for bottom-mapping work.

A Caterpillar C2.2 EPA Tier III generator provides 25 ekW of electric power for the boat’s air conditioning. Ayres Composite Panels are fitted in the cabin interior.

Tobin will operate alongside the USACE’s other river survey vessels based at Venice, Louisiana.

Photo: US Army Corps of Engineers/Sye Ellis
Type of vessel:Survey vessel
Classification:American Bureau of Shipping
Owner:US Army Corps of Engineers
Builder:Silver Ships, USA
Hull construction material:Aluminium
Length overall:49 feet (14.9 metres)
Main engines:2 x Caterpillar C18
Gearboxes:2 x Twin Disc MGX5136RV
Propulsion:2 x Michigan Wheel propellers
Generators:Caterpillar C2.2, 25 ekW
Maximum speed:28 knots
Radar:Furuno DRS6AX
Depth sounder:Teledyne Marine
Radios:Furuno VHF
Compass:Furuno SC70
AIS:Furuno FA-170
Other electronics:Furuno
Other equipment installed:Delta T Systems engine room ventilation; Arid Bilge Systems vacuum
Interior fitout/furnishings:Ayres Composite Panels
Operational area:Mississippi River, USA

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