Falmouth Harbour (FH) has awarded Holyhead Marine the £1.6M contract to build a clean, safe, fuel-efficient pilot vessel to join a fleet operating 24/7, 365 days a year and completing more than 1,000 boardings and landings per year within the Falmouth Harbour Pilotage Area.
It follows a competitive tender process of top boat builders around the UK, with a remit to make full use of modern advances in fuel-saving technology, safety and crew welfare and to have the new, 16–18m dedicated coded pilot vessel operational in 2024.
“Our Pilot boat crews work 24/7 365 days a year, in all weathers, to keep our Harbour open and safe to shipping and they deserve the best equipment we can buy,” says Falmouth Harbour CEO Miles Carden. “This new pilot vessel, built in the U.K. by Holyhead, will be an incredible asset for the next 20-30 years.
“It will be state of the art and one of the few Tier 3 compliant pilot vessels operating in the country – with features which help Falmouth Harbour Commissioners meet their sustainability targets.
“This is a very proud moment for our whole team who have worked incredibly hard to reach this point. In 18 months’ time the new vessel will arrive and this will be one of the biggest events for the Harbour for a decade and one of the largest private investments for a considerable period.”
Holyhead Marine Managing Director Nick Colin York says, “We are particularly excited about this project as this Pilot Boat will have the Camarc Design refined hull form which has been developed to improve efficiency, reduce fuel consumption and enhance seakeeping capability.
“We are absolutely delighted to have been awarded this contract and are looking forward to working with Miles and the team at Falmouth Harbour.”
Falmouth Harbour’s two current all-weather coded pilot boats operated by the Pilot Service are Arrow, a 16.7m Halmatic built modern pilot vessel built in 2006 and the LK Mitchell, a 17.5m Nelson 56 pilot vessel built in 1978. A two-boat operation, with the vessels operated in rotation, is essential to ensure complete coverage of the area and allow for vessel downtime and maintenance.
The new vessel will replace the LK Mitchell which was built in 1978 and has been operating as a Falmouth pilot boat ever since.
“At 45 years old LK Mitchell is fast approaching a point where she is no longer economically viable to operate to the standards required of a 24/7 operation in Falmouth,” says Miles. “She has been a loyal servant to our Port but the time to replace her has come. We will outline this vessel’s future in the coming months and we hope to redeploy her in a second, less demanding commercial life.”
Falmouth Pilot Services (FPS) are a service arm of Falmouth Harbour Commissioners and Falmouth Harbour is the pilotage authority for the Falmouth Pilotage Area which spans from Black Head to the Dodman including Falmouth Bay, the Helford and Percuil rivers, the Carrick Roads and the River Fal.
Falmouth Harbour Commissioners’ Chair Carrie Gilmore says, “This long-awaited and incredibly important investment represents a very exciting time for us and a statement about our confidence in the future of commercial shipping in our Harbour.
“The new vessel will be a significant step forward in technology, fuel efficiency and sustainability and will modernise Falmouth Harbour’s Pilotage service, securing safe and efficient operations for the future benefit of the Port and its many stakeholders. It will help make us absolutely fit for purpose to realise future opportunities around technologies such as Floating Offshore Wind (FLOW).”
FPS provides pilotage services to Falmouth Dock operators A&P Falmouth and Cornwall Council which runs the Ports of Truro and Penryn under an agency agreement. Falmouth Pilot Services have the remit to supply safe and efficient pilotage for this whole area on behalf of the many businesses and organisations that operate within it. The service operates 24/7 and 365 days a year across the full weather range in which shipping movements can take place within the area.
The Harbour Board evaluated tenders received based on criteria that included suitability of the proposed vessel specifically to the Falmouth Harbour operating environments, capability to deliver a vessel in service by the end of 2024, price and track record and experience of delivering Pilot Boats successfully into service in the UK.