PLA's Ecocats Win Innovative Design Award

The low wake 'Richmond' is at home on the quiet upper reaches of the Thames but is also MCA Coded for operations at sea up to 20 miles from safe haven. The boat will be on the floating pontoon at Seawork 2007.

The Port of London Authority (PLA), Southampton University and Seawork 2007 exhibitor Ecocats Limited have won a special prize from the Royal Institution of Naval Architects (RINA) and Lloyd's Register of Shipping, for the innovative design of the latest river patrol launches.  

The first vessel of the new Ecocats E31 design, 'Chelsea', was the subject of Vessel Launch coverage in the December 2006 issue of Maritime Journal.

The second Ecocats boat for the PLA, 'Richmond', will be available for viewing at Berth 46 on the floating pontoon at Seawork 2007. The newbuild is also an entrant in the Seawork Innovations Showcase.

The PLA worked with experts at the University of Southampton and from the boat building industry, to develop the hull design to suit the shallower waters of the Thames between Putney and Teddington. Compared to the conventional boats it replaces, the new boat causes less disturbance on the water, which is important to the safety of rowing boats and other small craft. It also has significantly improved environmental performance, as the slimmer twin-hull shape requires only about a third of the power to achieve patrol speeds.

The RINA - Lloyd's Register Ship Safety Award is presented annually to the project from the international maritime community that best promotes safety or protects the environment at sea or on rivers. The 2006 competition prize was presented to Alan Cartwright of the PLA, Professor Philip Wilson of the University of Southampton and Henry Mayhew of the boat builders, Ecocats of Cornwall, at the recent RINA Annual Dinner.

PLA chief executive, Richard Everitt said, 'This award from two internationally respected organisations is recognition of the innovative design work of the PLA team with Southampton University and Ecocats. We now have two vessels which enable us to work more closely with the host of leisure users in the upper river and with significant environmental benefits.'

The PLA sponsored a research and trials programme at the University of Southampton to develop the design concept for the boats. The result is the new 'twin-hull' design of two vessels, Chelsea, which has been in service on the river since the end of 2006 and 'Richmond', which has just been delivered from the Ecocats yard.

'Richmond' is a milestone boat for Devon UK based international marine consultants MECAL, as it is the 1,000th vessel the company has coded.  MECAL is a UK Certifying Authority authorised by the MCA. Like the first of class 'Chelsea', 'Richmond' has achieved certification as a category 3 workboat, able to operate to sea, day and night up to 20 miles from safe haven.

MECAL started some 15 years ago as part of IMarEST. Known as Marine Engineers Certifying Authority Ltd, the acronym MECAL was adopted when it was subsequently bought out by John and Jules Fearnley.  MECAL has recently been adopted as the technical arm of the Jersey Marine Administration, which allows it to deal with the registration of vessels up to 400 tons and commercial certification for vessels up to 150 tons.

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