28 Pi series pilot boats have now been built or ordered from Egyptian engineering company Mapso since the first of class hit the water in 2007- All of them featuring the famous Camarc double chine hull form.

According to a Mapso spokesman, the main reason for this success is that the hull lines provide an excellent compromise between speed, seaworthiness, and ride comfort in all weather, as achieving high speed in flat water is of no value if you have to reduce speed in rough seas.

So it is said that the Pi series can manage the same top speed in rough seas as it does in calm conditions, without slamming or discomfort to pilots.

Their brief was to design a robust, durable, low maintenance boat, suitable for operation in very tough operational conditions. Exotic solutions and materials were intentionally excluded, such as beaked hulls, composites, podded drives, etc.

The hull is extremely strong, as proven by one grounding and three collisions, all four accidents occurring at full speed and with only minor damage.

Different fendering options were tested, but so far the good old rubber D-fender is still the favourite.

Scania engines are also an absolute success for Mapso in pilot boat applications, with 70 engines already in service so far with exceptional reliability and low fuel and oil consumption.

Mapso were initially afraid that electronic engine controls might be an issue, but the company is pleased to report that there have been no electronics problems so far.

Conventional shafts and rudders are said to be extremely reliable and low maintenance, and in case of accident, inexpensive to replace.

The Suez Canal pilot boats replace the venerable GRP Watercraft 13.7 m pilot boat, also designed by Alastair Cameron of Camarc Ltd, back in the 1980s. The new series has been named Bahar by SCA, the vessel operator, and according to Mapso represents a quantum leap in comfort for the pilots. It is larger, at 15 m, than the original 13.7 m, beamier, faster at 22 kn than the original 18 kn, air conditioned, and much safer, with wider side decks, Hadrian rails, and a MOB recovery platform.

The SCA pilots are said to be elated by the new boats and much prefer them over any other model, a tribute to the team work done during the design phase- as an SCA committee discuss every part of the design to make sure the resulting boat would meet their requirements 100%.

Camarc Ltd was selected to design the range, due to the company’s unique expertise in pilot boat design, with over 200 pilot boats in successful operation worldwide.

UK naval architecture firm Camarc’s pilot boats range from 8m daughter craft up to 23m Pilot boats. Speed with seakeeping ability are the hallmarks of its designs.

Camarc designed boats are well proven in service and offer specific features unique to those required by this type of craft and pilot boarding operations. As well as the Suez Canal Authority, Camarc boats are used by port authorities and pilotage organisations worldwide including Loodswezen Dutch Pilots, Columbia River Bar Pilots, Port of Harwich and Port of Tees, Sydney Ports, Rosmorport Russia, Milford Haven Port Authority, Canadian Pacific Pilots, and many others.

Mapso Marine Propulsion and Supply S.A.E was established in 1976 in the wake of the Suez Canal re-opening in 1975. The company supplied the backbone of the tugs, ferries and floating cranes of the Suez Canal Authority, and later expanded its activities to the Egyptian port authorities.

The SCA remains one of the company’s strategic accounts and Mapso is delighted to be playing a continuing role in the new Suez Canal project.

The company provides components, systems and services to shipyards and end users and has developed vessel ranges in cooperation with the best design and naval architecture firms.

Mapso can also supply these proven vessels in the form of a CKD (completely knocked down kit), to partner yards worldwide.

General specs for the Pi series:

Hull and Superstructure Material: Aluminium 5083

LOA: 14.3 to 15.3

Beam: 4.2 m to 4.5 m

Speed 21-28 kn

Power: 400-650 HP per engine

Engines: Scania DI13 70M

Gearboxes: ZF 360A