Every marine vessel requires two critical components to ensure a safe journey: a competent master at the helm and a reliable power source in the engine room. Because of the increasing ship traffic and safety concerns, the design of pilot boats used to transfer pilots to and from ships has evolved significantly in recent years. Cat marine engines will power the majority of the new breed of pilot boats built for ports across Canada.
The Laurentian Pilotage Authority (LPA), based in Montreal, recently commissioned a new pilot boat constructed at Hike Metal Products Ltd shipyard and designed by Lengkeek Vessel Engineering Inc. Central Canadian Cat dealer Toromont was in charge of supplying the propulsion machinery and generator sets. Named Grandes Eaux (Mighty River), the vessel is powered by twin Cat C32 ACERT propulsion engines rated at 950 hp (709 bkW) at 1600 rpm and is capable of 25 knots. On-board electrical power comes from two Cat C2.2T generator sets each rated 29.5 ekW. The pilot boat operates from Les Escoumins and transfers pilots to and from ships along the St. Lawrence River.
The Grandes Eaux demonstrates some of the latest technology and safety features being designed for modern pilot boats, such as deck- and hand-rail heating to avoid ice build-up, a stern-mounted hydraulic lift to aid an overboard passenger, and a neoprene fender to cushion impacts during pilot transfers. Aside from unique features on the boat itself, the success of Cat marine engines in pilot boat applications relies on detailed application and installation planning to ensure the design of the engine perfectly matches the design of the vessel. For example, the Toromont engineering team worked to perfectly tune the Caterpillar-supplied Multi-Station Control System (MSCS) to provide instant shifting and throttle response essential for close-quarters maneuvering in rough weather.