VESSEL REFIT | Maguelonne – Fully-electric pilot boat to enter service off southeastern France

PILOTAGE WEEK
Photo: Maritime Green Horizon

French renewable energy company the SOPER Group, through its subsidiary Maritime Green Horizon (MGH), will place a rebuilt pilot boat into service in the waters of the French port of Sete-Frontignan within this year.

MGH claims the 12-metre-long Maguelonne is the world’s first fully electric pilot boat. This distinction is the result of an upgrade program that was begun by the company in 2018 with the objectives of extending the service life of the 1980-built vessel and reducing both the noise and CO2 emissions generated by shipping in the Occitanie region in the southeastern part of the country.

The most significant modification made to the pilot boat was the replacement of its diesel propulsion system with a fully electric system, hence the vessel’s alternate name of e-Maguelonne. The electric motor has a rated output of 200 kW and draws power from six lithium-ion batteries with a total output of 180 kWh. Charging of the batteries is done via a 120kW shore power facility at the Port of Sete-Frontignan and can be completed in 90 minutes.

Photo: Maritime Green Horizon

The electric motor will allow Maguelonne to reach a maximum speed of 19 knots. The crew will also be able to complete up to three consecutive pilot transfer trips before the batteries need to be recharged. MGH expects that operations with the re-powered boat will help reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 50 tonnes per year.

MGH’s partners on the refit of Maguelonne included local naval architects Mauric and electric motorcycle manufacturer Electric Motion while the actual conversion work on the boat took place the Marseilles-Fos pilots’ shipyard. The Marseilles-Fos pilots as well as the pilots of Sete-Frontignan were also selected to contribute their technical expertise to the development of the final design of the rebuilt vesse as well as to conduct sea trials.

The re-powered Maguelonne has already completed sea trials at the hands of Marseille-Fos pilots. The boat is now undergoing operational qualification tests by Sete-Frontignan pilots. Further testing will be carried out over a period of 18 months even after the vessel finally enters service.

Photo: Maritime Green Horizon

Click here for more news, features, and vessel reviews as part of this month’s focus on marine pilotage operations.

Maguelonne
SPECIFICATIONS
Type of vessel:Pilot boat
Flag:France
Owner:SOPER Group, France
Operator:Maritime Green Horizon, France
Designer:Mauric, France
Length overall:12 metres
Propulsion:200 kW
Maximum speed:19 knots
Batteries:6 x lithium-ion
Radar:Furuno
Operational area:Occitanie, France

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