Gladding-Hearn Delivers Two Launches To Virginia Pilots

No matter what line of business you're in, prompt and responsive service to your clients is an absolute essential. No one recognizes this fact more than the Virginia Pilots Association of Norfolk, an organization that is continually looking for ways to improve its operations and better serve the ships that call at Virginia ports.

In line with this philosophy, the VPA recently initiated a major change that will eventually move its center of operations to a landbased control tower. To be built at Cape Henry, this modern, computerized tower will become headquarters for the Association, replacing its 48-year-old pilot station vessel.

Of course, when you plan to move your base of operations miles away from your actual sea duty area, you have to consider some other factors as well—like acquiring pilot boats that offer high speed, proven performance, and allweather reliability. That's where Gladding- Hearn, the Somerset, Mass., shipbuilder came into the picture.

Completing a contract awarded in the fall of 1982, Gladding-Hearn recently delivered two 51-foot, fast pilot launches to the VPA. The all-aluminum, twin-screw vessels will play a pivotal role in the new scheme of operations for the Virginia Pilots. Designed by C. Raymond Hunt Associates of Boston, and featuring the proven Hunt "Deep-Vee" planing hull, these high-performance craft have been put into service as the first phase of the major operational change.

The new boats, named the Virginia and the Old Dominion, are the sixth and seventh in a class originally designed by Gladding-Hearn for the Delaware Bay Pilots. With a beam of 17 feet and draft of 4.5 feet, they have a top speed of 23 knots and will cruise at 20 knots.

To be based at Lynnhaven River, the new launches will be directed by traffic controllers in the new land-based tower. The controllers will use the most modern guidance equipment and methods to coordinate arriving and departing ships with pilot assignments.

Powered by twin GM Detroit Diesel Allison engines, each rated for 350 bhp at 2,100 rpm, the launches feature clear flush decks and an amidships wheel house with cabin-top boarding platform. The hot-water-heated deck house provides raised reclining seats for four (including helmsman), as well as a full-width bench seat, and a full complement of instrumentation and communication/navigation equipment. Accommodations include two settee berths, head, and wash basin.

The Hunt-designed hull comprises four watertight compartments served by an engine enginedriven bilge pump. Forward and aft decks are fitted with safety handrails and have heated walkways for de-icing. A water-level rescue platform is recessed into the transom.

The trend-setting change in operations being undertaken by the Virginia Pilots Association makes good sense in many ways—in economics, efficiency, and operational safety. When the move ashore is completed, the high costs of maintaining its aging pilot station vessel (about $1 million a year) will be eliminated.

Time will be saved for both the pilots and the vessels they serve, and pilots' exposure at sea in bad weather will be reduced significantly.

Maritime Reporter Magazine, page 34,  Dec 15, 1983 Delaware

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