VESSEL REVIEW | Spindletop – Largest US-built all-aluminium pilot boat will serve three Texas ports

Photo: Breaux's Bay Craft

Louisiana boat builder Breaux’s Bay Craft recently handed over a new custom-built, all-aluminium pilot boat to the Sabine Pilots Service of Port Arthur, Texas.

Shipyard owner Roy Breaux has claimed that the newbuild, named Spindletop, is the largest all-aluminium pilot boat to be built in the United States with a length of 89 feet (27.4 metres), a beam of 23 feet (seven metres), and a depth of 12.3 feet (3.75 metres). The deep V-bottom-hulled boat was designed by Breaux’s in collaboration with C. Fly Marine Services.

Photo: C Fly Marine Services

Power is provided by a quartet of Scania DI16-82-M diesel engines, each capable of producing 800 hp (596 kW) at 2,100 rpm. The engines are connected to four HamiltonJet HM461 propulsion units via an equal number of Twin Disc MGX-5146 gearboxes. This configuration enables Spindletop to reach speeds of up to 30.6 knots, though a regular running speed of 27 knots will be the norm for its daily operations.

Photo: C Fly Marine Services

The installation of Humphree HA-1100 interceptors with active ride plus stability coupled with the optimised hull design means that the boat can easily manage wave heights of up to four feet (1.2 metres) even when sailing regularly at high operating speeds in excess of 20 knots. A HamiltonJet manoeuvring system enables precise sailing via joystick even in restricted waters, such as those found in inner port areas.

Photo: C Fly Marine Services

The pilothouse has individual seating for one operator and 15 pilots/passengers. The operator’s chair and those of the passengers were all supplied by NorSap. The operator’s chair also comes equipped with a headrest-mounted microphone and three armrest-mounted VHF push-to-talk buttons, ensuring that the operator need not leave the helm station just to operate the radio.

Photo: C Fly Marine Services

Transfers to and from ships can be done via port and starboard boarding platforms at the bow and another two boarding platforms mounted above the pilothouse, giving Spindletop improved flexibility when alongside vessels of varying sizes.

Photo: C Fly Marine Services

Spindletop‘s size also enables it to accommodate ample liveaboard spaces not typically found on other pilot boats. These include two staterooms with double bunks, a toilet and shower with fresh-water flush, and a seating area separate from that in the pilothouse.

The boat’s electronics include Furuno radar, compass, sonar, AIS, and weather station with multi-function displays, Icom VHF radios and command microphones, and a suite of five thermal and visible imaging cameras supplied by FLIR Systems. Electricity for all onboard systems is supplied by a pair of 50hp (38kW) generator sets provided by Northern Lights.

The vessel is also well-equipped for dealing with emergencies. Fitted onboard are 16 life jackets, a flare kit, throw rings, and a six-person life raft from Revere Survival. There is also an onboard CO2 suppression firefighting system from Herbert S. Hiller as well as a blower-equipped ventilation system and moisture eliminators from Delta Ventilation. A SeaLift rescue platform with transom jib pole and winch is fitted on the aft transom to enable the craft to assist in waterborne rescues, particularly during man overboard incidents.

Lastly, the boat is equipped with a rubber bumper system of aircraft tyres and D bumpers.

Spindletop is the fifth pilot boat to be built by Breaux’s for the Sabine Pilots Service. It has already begun serving the Texas ports of Port Arthur and Orange in Orange County and Beaumont in Jefferson County. Its area of operations also includes portions of the Gulf of Mexico.

Photo: C Fly Marine Services

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Type of vessel:Pilot boat
Port of registry:Port Arthur, Texas, USA
Owner:Sabine Pilots Service, USA
Operator:Sabine Pilots Service, USA
Designer:C. Fly Marine Services, USA
Builder:Breaux’s Bay Craft, USA
Hull construction material:Aluminium
Superstructure construction material:Aluminium
Deck construction material:Aluminium
Length overall:89 feet (27.4 metres)
Beam:23 feet (7.0 metres)
Depth:12.3 feet (3.75 metres)
Main engines:4 x Scania DI16-82-M, each 800 hp (596 kW) at 2,100 rpm
Gearboxes:4 x Twin Disc MGX-5146
Propulsion:4 x HamiltonJet HM461
Generators:2 x Northern Lights, each 50 hp (38 kW)
Maximum speed:30.6 knots
Cruising speed:27 knots
Radar:Furuno DRS12A-NXT
Radios:3 x Icom M605 VHF
Sonar:Furuno DFF3D
Compass:Furuno SCX 20
AIS:Furuno FA 170
Cameras/night vision:FLIR Systems M400XR stabilised thermal/visible camera; 4 x FLIR temperature measurement thermal/visible imaging cameras
Other electronics:Seatronx sunlight readable touch screen monitor; KVH Tracvision 3 motion satellite system; 2 x Kingdel microcomputers
Fendering:Rubber bumper system with aircraft tyres and D bumpers
Other equipment installed:4 x Humphree HA-1100 interceptors; HamiltonJet manoeuvring system; 4 x boarding platforms
Seating:16 x NorSap seats
Safety equipment:16 x life jackets; ; Delta Ventilation ventilation system and moisture eliminators; SeaLift aft rescue platform; flare kit; throw rings
Firefighting equipment:Herbert S. Hiller CO2 suppression system
Liferaft:Revere Survival 6-person raft
Type of fuel:Diesel
Fuel capacity:3,960 gallons (15,000 litres)
Freshwater capacity:360 gallons (1,360 litres)
Accommodation:2 x staterooms with double bunks; toilet and shower; forward seating area

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