Pilot Vessels Designed For Anticipated USCG Regulation Changes
On August 31, a dual christening was held at Worldport LA for the Port's new pilot boats, Phineas Banning and Stephen M. White, as each was welcomed into service, after a design process that commenced more than a few years ago, according to Jack Hochadel, vice president of Willard Marine — the yard charged with the vessel construction and outfitting.
The vessels were designed specifically to serve the needs of Los Angeles Port pilots, whose boarding area will be extended from threequarters of a mile to three miles out at sea, under anticipated U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) regulation changes.
At Los Angeles Harbor, a pilot boards a ships out at sea, and helps steer it past the Los Angeles Lighthouse to its assigned berth in the 7,500-acre Port. Departing ships also carry pilots, who board while still at berth, and disembark after the vessel is at sea.
C. Raymond Hunt Associates, Inc., of Boston, Mass., designed the vessels, based on the requirement for fast, pilot-boarding launches capable of year-round, all-weather operation, with the capacity to maintain speed and provide stable boarding in rough seas. In a recent talk with MR /EN, Captain Patrick Donahue of Worldport LA reported on the vessels' operation since both were put in service, one in mid-June, and the other during the first week of August. "They handle better with a little more speed. With the old boats, we had to go slow. Now boarding is possible at eight to ten knots," said CaptainDonahue.
When asked how the pilot boats will contribute to the overall operation of the Port, he responded, "We can service ships out further and faster. With the old boats, people would stack up. We can now service three or four at a time, and keep them coming."