VESSEL REVIEW | Aransas Pilot III – Fast pilot boat for Port Aransas, Texas

Photo: Breaux's Bay Craft

In the 65 years since Roy Breaux, Sr. founded Breaux’s Bay Craft and on down through three generations, the yard has built over 1,700 hulls. Through the regular expansion and contraction of the oil industry, they learned to pivot from market demand to market demand.

As the oil industry in the Gulf of Mexico moved farther offshore, the demand for larger and faster crewboats was met by Breaux. The fine-hulled aluminum crewboats grew to 125-foot (38-metre) vessels powered by up to five 700hp (521kW) Cummins KTA19 engines, then, the boats grew to 145 by 28 feet (44 by 8.5 metres) with four Cummins KTA38 engines delivering 5,600 hp (4,175 kW) total and a 30-knot speed. In 2008 they delivered the 180- by 30-foot (54- by 9.1-metre), red-hulled fast supply vessel Miss Lauren, powered by four Cummins KTA50 mains each delivering 1,800 hp (1,342 kW).

Photo: Breaux’s Bay Craft

Even then, there were uncertainties on the horizon. While some demand continued for new and repair work, the company began to pivot. They built passenger vessels, yachts, and patrol boats, each designed to the needs and demands of the individual customer and launched into Bayou Teche near Loreauville Louisiana.

With over 1,700 boats advertising the name over the years, there have been some significant one-off vessels designed and built by the firm. Builders often note that ship’s pilot organisations can be the most particular customers due to their own massive experience in the maritime world. Breaux’s Bay Craft recently gained international attention with the largest, 90-foot (27-metre), all-aluminium pilot boat built in the US for the Sabine Pilots of Texas. After one year in operation, it currently has over 70,000 nautical miles under the keel.

In June 2022, they sea trialed and delivered a 70- by 19.5-foot (21.3- by 5.9-metre) pilot vessel to Aracor of Port Aransas, Texas. Designed in-house in consultation with the pilots, the vessel features a new-generation, inverted deep-V bottom.

Photo: Breaux’s Bay Craft

Pilot boats are all-weather boats, designed for seakeeping and speed. The new boat, Aransas Pilot III, is all of that. The hull design gives her excellent handling in heavy seas, and her propulsion package assures plenty of speed. A pair of Cummins QSK 38M1 LTAC engines each delivering 1,400 hp (1,043 kW) at 1,900 rpm are coupled to Twin Disc MGX 6620A, 2.09:1 gears. These turn Aqua Tech shafts and NiBral 39.5- by 50-inch (1,003mm by 1,270mm) props. This power is selected to give the 70-foot (21.3-metre) boat a speed of 27 to 30 knots.

Auxiliary power is provided by a pair of 36kW Northern Lights single phase generators with sound enclosures. Tankages on the Aransas III include fuel with 2,500 gallons (9,463 litres), water with 150 gallons (567 litres), and lube oil with 110 gallons (416 litres).

Photo: Breaux’s Bay Craft

Comfort is enhanced with ride-compensating seating for up to 12 pilots in NorSap Model 1600 and one Model 1500 Imtra Corp for the pilot boat captain. Onboard accommodation is provided for two crew with head and treatment plant by A Head Sanitation Systems. Bridge electronics include multiple Furuno radars with 19-inch LCD displays. There are two M605 VHF radios and a Furuno FA-170 AIS supplied by DBS Electronics. The steering system is electric over hydraulic with dual electric pumps and an auxiliary, engine-driven pump for backup supplied by Gulf Coast Air and Hydraulics.

Photo: Breaux’s Bay Craft

Flooring is by Plastek, sound insulation is by Mascoat Marine DB and DTM, engine room overhead insulation is by Insulations Inc, and the fixed CO2 firefighting system is by Herbert S. Hiller. The bilge system includes a 110V electric pump manifold to each compartment with 12V and engine drive pump for backup.

The pilot boat is also fitted with Humphree interceptors with active ride control as well as a Side Power SE 300 bow thruster.

Aransas Pilot III was built to USCG and ABS welding procedures.

Photo: Breaux’s Bay Craft

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Aransas Pilot III
Type of vessel:Pilot boat
Classification:USCG; American Bureau of Shipping
Owner:Aracor, USA
Builder:Breaux’s Bay Craft, USA
Hull construction material:Aluminium
Length overall:70 feet (21.3 metres)
Beam:19.5 feet (5.9 metres)
Main engines:2 x Cummins QSK 38M1 LTAC, each 1,400 hp (1,043 kW) at 1,900 rpm
Gearboxes:2 x Twin Disc MGX 6620A
Propulsion:2 x NiBral propellers
Generators:2 x Northern Lights, each 36 kW
Side thruster:Sleipner Side Power
Steering system:Gulf Coast Air and Hydraulics
Maximum speed:30 knots
Electronics supplied by:DBS Electronics
Other equipment installed:Humphree interceptors; A Head Sanitation Systems treatment plant
Floor surface finish:Plastek
Interior fitout/furnishings:Mascoat Marine insulation; Insulations Inc
Firefighting equipment:Hiller fixed CO2 system
Fuel capacity:2,500 gallons (9,463 litres)
Freshwater capacity:150 gallons (567 litres)
Operational area:Gulf of Mexico, USA

Alan Haig-Brown

Alan Roderick Haig-Brown is a Canadian novelist and non-fiction writer. He specialises in commercial marine and commercial fishing writing and photography. He is a regular contributor to a number of marine publications.