The Port of London Authority (PLA) has ordered the UK’s first hybrid pilot boat from Goodchild Marine in bold move to help meet climate targets.

The ORC 136.HY is a parallel hybrid pilot boat, thanks to the TRANSFLUID HYBRID SYSTEM, which will combine both diesel and electric power and has been designed to be completely emission-free when operating in electric mode.

The PLA has placed the order as it starts to deliver on the commitments in its recently published Air Quality Strategy for the tidal Thames – also the first of its kind for any UK Port.

Among the 18 proposals for action is a commitment to encourage the installation of green technology.

Goodchild Marine Services Limited, a family-run business in Burgh Castle, near Great Yarmouth – whose ORC flagship range lends itself to incorporating hybrid power – is partnering with EP Barrus for the Yanmar engines, and transmission specialists, Marine and Industrial Transmissions Limited for the TRANSFLUID HYBRID SYSTEM, to deliver a plug-in diesel hybrid pilot boat.

The hull will be based on the established ‘ORC’ design, developed by French naval architects Pantocarene and adapted by Goodchild Marine for the UK market.

ORCs feature a ‘beak’ bow design, which aims to give the design unmatched all-weather capability.

The new hybrid vessel is due for delivery spring 2019.

The new pilot cutter, which is expected to reach up to 15 knots under hybrid power, will be used by the PLA for the transfer of pilots to and from vessels in Gravesend Reach.

Alan Goodchild, Managing Director of Goodchild Marine Services Limited, said the company was delighted to respond to developing technology and market interest.

“There are lots of hybrid boats on the market, but in my opinion, not like this. It’s down to the application, the speed it must reach, where it operates and the time it’s working over the course of the day, which means it is a challenge to achieve.

“Passenger boats, such as ferries are low speed on a pre-determined duty cycle and there are times they can be plugged in and re-charged.

“Pilot boats however, can be erratic on duty cycle and speed requirements, so to achieve 15 knots under hybrid power is a leap and perhaps why no-one else, to the best of my knowledge, has gone for it.”

Marine and Industrial Transmissions Limited (MIT) and its manufacturing and technology partners TRANSFLUID will provide the hybrid system.

John Logue, Managing Director of MIT, said: “Our manufacturing and technology partners TRANSFLUID have invested heavily in the development of our plug and play electric/hybrid system and have numerous reference projects around the world. However the PLA project is unique in that it is a first for a UK pilot vessel and will operate at speeds up to 15 knots in electric mode.”

Other vessels which may benefit from a hybrid solution include survey vessels, harbour workboats, passenger vessels, and patrol boats.19