‘P/V Dithmarschen’, the first of two 28-metre Pilot Boats for the German Generaldirektion fuer Wasserstrassen und Schifffahrt was delivered before Christmas by commercial marine boatbuilders Dockstavarvet of Sweden.

The project was commissioned by the owners in co-operation with SVA Tec in Potsdam. All the detailed engineering was then done by the shipyard with FKAB as subcontractor for class drawings. The hull features hard chines, a full length skeg, bulb stem and a square transom. The vessel’s main dimensions are 27.60 x 7 metres with a draft of 2.6 metres at the full load displacement of 120 tons.

The steel hulls of the two vessels have been built by Riga Shipyard and the aluminium deckhouses by Aluspec. The engine systems are a package delivery from PON Sweden comprising a Caterpillar C32 main engine rated 895kW at 1800 rpm, Reintjes gearbox and a CAT CPP system. PON has also delivered the control- and alarm systems as well as two CAT C4.4 / 38 kW diesel generators. All engines are fitted with keel-cooling from Fernstrum and the complete ship including 100m2 deck area is heated from the cooling system and a 75kW Kabola boiler. The ventilation / air-conditioning system is from Dometic / Marine Air. A hydraulic Sleipner / Side Power bow thruster is fitted with pumps driven from a PTO on the gearbox. The steering gear is of yard design with a large fish tail rudder and with one main hydraulic pump driven from the main engine and a stand by pump with electric drive.

The top speed under full load conditions is quoted at 14.3 knots. At 50% output the speed is still well over 12 knots giving a fuel consumption of less 10l/NM. The fuel capacity is 12m3; a figure intended to provide one week of operation between fills. A continuous running Mahle filter system is installed in addition to the standard Separ filters. Fire and bilge pumps have been supplied by Desmi.

The electrical system including main switchboards and sub-systems have been designed and installed by the yard´s electrical department. Most of the deck and interior lighting is fitted with LED lights. The navigation lights and alarm panels were delivered by Bönig and the remote-controlled searchlight is a Colorlight CL-25.

The navigation system is mainly equipment from JRC, delivered by Alphatron in Hamburg. The ship is fitted with two radars, plotter and riverpilot systems type JMA-610 / Radapilot IN 720 / Alphapilot MF with its accsociated rate-of-turn and rudder indicators as well as a GPS-Compass JRL-31, a DGPS JRL-790 and an AIS SAAB R 5 Solid. In addition, there is also an echo sounder type JFE-320, a weather station from Firma Thies, a Zentinel CTB-20 intercom system, a Plettac camera system and three Sailor VHF units.

The anchor gear is from Heinrich Harbisch and the windlass from MB-Hydraulikk. The fender system comprises 400 and 500mm cylindrical fenders at deck level and 200 x 250mm D-fenders on the boat´s side. A pilot platform is installed forward of midships 1.4 metres over deck level. The platform is fitted with hydraulic drive allowing it to be pushed out in line with the fender system to both sides. For transfer of pilots to ships with lower freeboards there are side niches to port and starboard with the deck level only 0.5 metres over the waterline.The niche on port side is fitted with a rescue davit and a M.O.R.S system to facilitate the recovery of a person from the sea.

All accommodation is located aft of midships. Below deck there is a crew mess with pantry and restroom. The deckhouse provides a pilot saloon with 9 seats and the wheelhouse with two control stations, one on each side, both ‘fully equipped with complete and redundant navigation and communication systems’. The seating in the pilot saloon has been provided by BE-GE and in the wheelhouse from Nor-Sap.

The vessel is claimed to be the first to be built in Sweden according to the harmonised EU-Rules for Inland Navigation and is classed by the Swedish Transport Board through DNV-GL for Zone 2. After transfer to Germany under Swedish flag the vessel went through an additional control by ZSUK (Zentrale Schiffsuntersuchungkommission) for the extended operational area ‘Zone 2 See’.

The sister vessel will be delivered in May 2018. The newbuildings will replace three older pilot boats and will be operated by Lotsbetriebsverein at Brunsbuettel in the Elbe estuary serving the traffic to and from Hamburg and the Kiel Canal. 30,000 boarding operations are performed by these vessels every year and each Pilot Vessel will be on duty 24/7, operating about 4000 hours between service intervals.

By Jake Frith