Shipbuilder Metal Shark said it is building a welded aluminum 55’ x 17’ pilot boat for the Pascagoula Bar Pilots Association in Mississippi, scheduled for delivery later this year.
Designed in-house, the new 55 Defiant Pilot being built for Pascagoula Pilots incorporates the“faceted hull” design initially developed by Metal Shark for the U.S. Navy 40 PB program, and features an enhanced version of Metal Shark’s “pillarless glass” in a two-tiered, reverse-raked arrangement.
The builder said it initially implemented automotive-style frameless glass into its pilothouse designs to eliminate the blind spots common on legacy pilothouse designs fitted with smaller, framed windows. As a further evolution of this concept, the new 55 Defiant’s pilothouse features a second tier of glass, improving downward-angle visibility during man overboard retrieval, or while operating alongside another vessel. Meanwhile, large overhead spotter windows provide unimpeded upward visibility during pilot transfer maneuvers.
While its Defiant-class vessels are available to a wide range of operators, Metal Shark said it has developed an arrangement optimized specifically for pilots, featuring flat, non-skid decks run from bow to stern, safety rails and grab handles, and pilot boarding platforms configured to operator requirements. For Pascagoula, the launch has been equipped with a foredeck transfer zone with integrated stairways allowing port, starboard or forward access to two deployable platforms with integrated safety rails allowing pilots to board ships from either side of the vessel.
The 55 Defiant’s climate-controlled cabin is equipped with four Dometic HVAC units and features eight Llebroc seats, accommodating a single operator plus seven pilot passengers. Each swivel seating position is equipped with a footrest, adjustable armrests, white/red LED lighting, a drink holder and two 12-volt USB outlets.
A full electronics suite includes Furuno TZtouch2 multifunction display system with integrated GPS, radar, depth sounder, and a FLIR M-series 364C premium thermal imaging system for nighttime operations. Five closed-circuit cameras allow the vessel’s operator to monitor the engine room and aft deck from multiple angles at a glance while still maintaining watch.
Belowdecks accommodations include an enclosed head compartment with fresh water sink, bunks, and individual storage lockers for crew members’ personal items. Acoustic insulation and flooring are employed throughout the vessel to reduce noise and vibration.
The vessel will be powered by twin Cat C18 engines rated at 803 horsepower each, turning Michigan Wheel 34” diameter Nibral four-blade propellers through Twin Disc MGX5146A 1.961 gears. This combination will deliver an expected cruise speed in the 25-knot range and a top speed approaching 30 knots. An 800-gallon fuel capacity allows for a cruise speed range of approximately 280 nautical miles.
“Metal Shark continues to develop next-generation pilot boat designs custom-tailored to meet the requirements of individual pilot groups, each based upon an extensively proven hull form,” said Carl Wegener, Metal Shark’s VP of Commercial Sales. “We’re excited to be building this new pilot boat for Pascagoula, which is their second Metal Shark pilot boat and the first in a series of this new 55’ Defiant platform.”
The new vessel is the latest result of Metal Shark’s ongoing expansion into the pilot boat market, following two 45-foot Defiant pilot boats delivered to Belle Chasse Marine Transportation last year, and 45-foot and 64-foot Defiant pilot boats delivered in 2018.
“We invest heavily engineering to continually enhance and evolve our product portfolio and this newest pilot boat exemplifies that approach,” said Metal Shark’s CEO Chris Allard, “Like our US Navy 40 Defiant patrol boats, and our 50 Defiant and 70 Defiant fireboats now in production, this new 55 Defiant Pilot shows our commitment to the ongoing evolution of our product line across all sectors.”