Western Australian boatbuilder Dongara Marine has delivered a second Berkeley Class pilot boat to the port of Fremantle.

European content includes Humphree (interceptor tabs), Scania (Engines) and Goodchild Marine (MOB recovery cradle apparatus).

Named Genesis it joins Berkeley, which has been operating with great success in the Western Australian port since 2015. Whereas the earlier delivery is owned by Fremantle Pilots, Harbour Services Australia (HSA) acquired the 19.4 metre long Genesis to join its fleet of 18 work boats. Genesis is the first significant newbuild the company has commissioned.

Dongara Marine’s Managing Director Rohan Warr says the new pilot launch shares the basic traits that have seen operators describe the Berkeley Class as the ‘Rolls Royce of pilot boats’.

“High open water speed for fast transits, extreme stability, and confirmed self-righting are all hallmarks of the Berkeley Class,” Warr said, “but it is arguably the high levels of seakeeping and manoeuvrability that contribute most to the pilot boat design maximising overall operability, as well as the safety and comfort of pilots and crew, even in challenging offshore seas.”

Southerly Designs designed the aluminium hull specifically for demanding conditions, leveraging experience spanning many decades designing literally hundreds of high speed fishing, patrol and offshore crew boats.

“The hull design combines a long waterline, fine entry and highly flared bow with twin keels and twin, over-size rudders that reduce roll and increase both directional stability and manoeuvring performance,” Warr explained.

“This is combined with a resiliently mounted composite superstructure, the low weight of which also contributes to stability and operating efficiency, while simultaneously enhancing habitability through reduced noise, vibration, and heat transfer.”

A number of HSA boats are Scania-powered, some as the result of repowers, and a company representative said the excellent results and through-life service from Scania were instrumental in HSA becoming the first operator to select Dongara Marine’s twin Scania DI16 076M powering option.

Independent side-by-side testing at full scale has previously demonstrated that the Berkeley Class is more fuel efficient than other contemporary pilot vessel designs, even though it is also larger and faster. The performance of Genesis, though, has taken the operating cost savings to another level again.

As a result of optimising the full system, including engines, running gear, and vessel displacement and trim the vessel is claimed to achieve fuel consumption that is about 30 per cent less than earlier Berkeleys at the same operating speed.

Rohan Warr confirmed the outstanding results. “To be honest we were initially a bit sceptical the numbers we calculated would be achieved, but sea trials verified the savings. Naturally that is a big benefit to operators, especially those like HSA who run lots of hours.”

Genesis runs comfortably at 24.5 knots and achieved 32 knots at full power during trials.

Compared to selecting alternative main engines, the other changes from previous Berkeley Class vessels are far more detailed orientated, with a strong focus on vessel systems engineering.

Dongara is proud of the attention to detail, mentioning oversize cooling water inlets; a central fuel filtration station; multiple inspection and flushing points; and electrical cabling that is not only colour coded and tagged but also physically labelled as just some examples of where the build team has gone the extra step to improve the operational and maintenance experience.

Whereas the preceding Berkeley Class are all dedicated to pilot transfers, Genesis has a more diversified role, transferring surveyors, ships agents, crew and, should it be required, pilots between ship and shore. To facilitate this the cabin is arranged with military-grade suspension seats for six passengers and two crew, up from the four pilots of the earlier vessels.

By Jake Frith