New boat eases Elbe pilot operations
A new pilot transfer boat has gone into operation in Germany’s busy Elbe Estuary and officials say it will make life easier and safer for hundreds of local pilots, reports Tom Todd.
Steinburg was named and entered service out of Brunsbüttel at the Elbe entrance to the Kiel Canal. It is the second of its type to join the local pilot boat fleet and follows a sister delivered late last year. Together they have cost German authorities a reported €11 million.
Built by the specialist Swedish pilot tender builder Dockstavarvet the two boats mark the continuation of a programme to modernise an ageing German pilot boat fleet. It has already seen six new pilot boats, also built by Dockstavarvet, enter service in the Kiel Fiord and the Bay of Lübeck between 2009 and 2011.
Jörg Heinrich of Germany’s Waterways and Shipping Administration (WSV) in Bonn said of the latest Elbe acquisitions: “These technically modern boats will much improve working conditions for the some 420 pilots on the Elbe and in the approach waters to and from the Kiel Canal and make transfers safer”.
The WSV praised Dockstavarvet saying it had a lot of experience building pilot boats for North Sea and Baltic operation. The new steel-hulled boats, with aluminium superstructures, are specially designed to meet short wave and steep swell demands on the Elbe Estuary. Other demands the Germans have are the need for high speeds on approach and safe movement alongside ships and during turning manoeuvres.
Steinburg sister Dithmarschen was delivered last December but had not been officially named and authorities used the Steinburg naming as an opportunity to also name the earlier boat.
The Type AP 28M pilot boats are 27.6m x 7m and draw 2.6m. A WSV listing puts their top speed at 26kms/hour – more than 14 knots. Their hulls are from Riga Shipyard and superstructures from Aluspec. The engine configuration from PON Sweden comprises a Caterpillar C32 main engine rated 895 kW, Reintjes gearing and a CAT CPP system. PON also delivered the control and alarm systems as well as two CAT C4.4 /38 kW diesel generators.
Also listed on the new Steinburg are an hydraulic Sleipner bow thruster and a navigation system comprising mainly JRC equipment, from Alphatron in Hamburg.
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