FEATURE | Oil spill cleanup vessel finds new life as pilot station boat for Staten Island
A unique vessel conversion project is presently in its final stages at Feeney Shipyard in upper New York State.
The object of the conversion is the former Maine Responder, which was built by VT Halter Marine in 1993 and used as an oil spill response vessel (OSRV) by Washington, DC-based Marine Spill Response Corporation (MSRC) until 2019. Once the work is completed later this year, ex-Maine Responder will be aptly renamed New York and will be operated as a pilot station vessel by the Sandy Hook Pilots Association of Staten Island.
New York will replace a similarly named vessel that has been in service with the Sandy Hook Pilots for nearly 50 years. Feeney Shipyard is carrying out the conversion with engineering support provided by JMS Naval Architects. This support includes evaluation of the vessel prior to purchase and owner’s representative services on behalf of Sandy Hook Pilots during the actual conversion itself.
The work on ex-Maine Responder entailed more than simply the removal of all its oil recovery systems. The 1,335-ton (1,211-tonne), 208-foot (60-metre) vessel is being rebuilt into a large tender whose main function is to provide pilot boats and their crews with adequate logistical support without them having to return to shore. Moreover, the vessel needed to be robust enough to provide that support even under the harshest winter conditions typical in the northeastern United States.
In general, the conversion design included installation of a large two-tier deck house for the pilot berthing, lounge, and mess and incorporation of operational capabilities specific to the pilots’ mission.
First, the vessel is being fitted with a port rescue station with net recovery system for use in man overboard situations. Deck de-icing systems will be installed at the port and starboard pilot boarding stations along with a hot water/steam system for power washing to de-ice the pilot boats when alongside, thus allowing pilotage operations to be carried out even during the winter months.
The vessel is also being fitted with a new knuckle boom crane. This will be used primarily to service the port and starboard rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) that will be operated as the vessel’s own tender craft, though it will also be used for loading gear when pierside.
The existing potable water capacity will be increased threefold to nearly 227,000 litres, and two port and starboard fueling/transfer stations for small boats will be fitted as well.
The pilothouse will also be modified with port and starboard screens showing live video feeds from the CCTV cameras facing the pilot boarding area (A viewing screen will also be installed in the crew mess area.). For easier communications especially while underway, speakers will be fitted in the port and starboard bridge wings as well as in the pilot boarding area to ensure two-way communications between the two areas of the vessel.
The pilothouse will also have floor to ceiling windows facing aft and down to provide operators with a clearer view of the pilot boarding station as an added measure of comfort during transfers.
The completed vessel will retain its helicopter pad, ABS classification, and COI as a US Coast Guard Subchapter I vessel.
The rebuilt New York is scheduled for delivery in September 2021 and is slated to serve the entrance to New York Harbor, Hudson River, Hell’s Gate, and Long Island Sound.