VESSEL REVIEW | Balblair – Irish-built pilot boat to serve Cromarty Firth, Scotland

Photo: Safehaven Marine

Safehaven Marine of Ireland has recently delivered a new pilot boat to the Port of Cromarty Firth in Scotland.

The Bureau Veritas-classed Balblair is the second pilot boat in a series to be delivered to the port. The newbuild will join sister boat Dalmore, which has been operating at the port since its delivery in 2019. The design was chosen by the port for its ability to provide safe pilot transfers in all weather conditions.

The new boat has an LOA of 14.9 metres, a moulded beam of 4.1 metres, a draught of 1.35 metres, and a lightship displacement of 17.5 tonnes.

Powered by a pair of Volvo D13 372kW engines, Balblair can sail at an operational speed of 25 knots. A total fuel capacity of 2,000 litres guarantees the endurance necessary for sustained operations in the ever-busy Scottish port.

Shock-mitigation seating is available for five pilots and two crewmembers. For the crew transfer role, the boat can accommodate up to 12 people. The main cabin has air conditioning and windows with double glazing to avoid the problems of misting. The noise heard from inside the main cabin is kept to only 74 dB.

The wheelhouse features a central helm position, which enhances optimal vessel control and improved visibility, as well as a full array of navigation equipment supplied by Furuno. The spacious lower forward cabin meanwhile has full live-aboard facilities. This area of the vessel enjoys ample space thanks in part to the installation of the engines further aft underneath the main cabin, where they are subject to less loading and accelerations in rough seas. This also allows the engines to be quickly removed in the event of failure.

Photo: Safehaven Marine

The forward cabin features bunk berths allowing the pilots to rest comfortably during transits at nighttime. This space also provides increased seating capacity that can be utilised in an emergency, or when additional passenger seating is required. The interior is finished to a very high standard, being fully lined throughout in vinyl and sidelining carpet and crafted wood trimmings.

As is the case with Dalmore, Balblair is fitted with Safehaven Marine’s proven “sacrificial” fender system to enable boarding impacts to be significantly cushioned and to provide a high degree of protection for the hull, especially in rough conditions.

A man overboard (MOB) recovery system is fitted on the transom to allow an injured casualty to be easily recovered from the water.

Other features are a 240V, 3.5kW generator allowing onboard 240v supplies when underway. Electro-hydraulic trim flaps fully protected in recesses mounted underneath the transom provide control over running trim.

Photo: Safehaven Marine

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

Type of vessel:Pilot boat
Classification:Bureau Veritas
Port of registry:Cromarty Firth, UK
Owner:Port of Cromarty Firth, UK
Builder:Safehaven Marine, Ireland
Length overall:14.9 metres
Beam:4.1 metres
Draught:1.35 metres
Displacement:17.5 tonnes
Main engines:2 x Volvo D13, each 372 kW
Generator:3.5 kW
Cruising speed:25 knots
Other electronics:Furuno
Fendering:Safehaven Marine
Other equipment installed:Trim flaps
Interior fitout/furnishings:Vinyl; wood
Safety equipment:Man overboard recovery system
Fuel capacity:2,000 litres
Accommodation:Forward cabin
Operational area:Cromarty Firth, UK

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