Almar Builds RIBs for Port of Spain, Trinidad Pilots

Wednesday, June 06, 2007
The Trinidad pilots' boats were the result of close cooperation between the pilots and Almar, which has built over 50 RIBS for commercial use. The boats have numerous features to ensure safety when boarding or disembarking from ships in darkness and bad weather.

Almar, the Tacoma, Washington builder of aluminum workboats has recently delivered the last of three 43-ft. RIBs to the Port of Spain, Trinidad Pilots Association. The West Indian island’s main export is petroleum products, and over 30 pilots are employed to ensure the safety of the numerous tankers and freighters that call on Port of Spain and four nearby harbors. The three Trinidad boats are based on the deep-V hull that is suitable in rough water and offshore. The angle at the bow entry (cutwater) is 50 degrees, with 24 degrees at the transom, giving it an easy motion in big swells or a short chop in harbor. It can cruise comfortably in a seaway at 30 knots says Sandeman, who has ridden along with the pilots on the US east coast and the Caribbean.

Almar has designed and built over 50 specialized RIBs since the early 90s, explains and they have gained invaluable experience in the design of this hull form. Tube-attachment methods, chine shape and spray deflection are just three of the refined, tested features that he points to as significant on the pilots’ boats.

Almar says the inflatable tube is effective at cushioning the shock as a pilot boat comes alongside a ship, and the tube is soft enough that it significantly reduces the chance of injury should a pilot fall between the boat and the ship. Should this occur, the boat is equipped aft with a deployable Lifesling rescue device, and the pilot can be hoisted back onboard with a davit and manual winch. In addition, the inflatable tubes, which must withstand the abrasion when alongside a ship, are reinforced by a heavy ribbed rubber laminate on the wear surfaces. They are manufactured in two halves, joined at the bow, and attached to the hull with two widely-spaced flexible tabs. The upper tab is bolted through a flange on the gunwhale, the lower is fitted with a large-diameter bolt rope that is inserted in a grooved extrusion on the hull. This system allows the operator to easily replace a damaged tube.

The hull is welded from ¼ in. 5086 aluminum, the beam is 13 ft. with tube inflated, the displacement is 22,000 lbs. Power comes from a pair of Caterpillar C9s each developing 505 hp at 2500 rpm, controlled by the ACERT system that meets Tier 2 requirements. The engines turn Hamilton 322 waterjets via a ZF 305 1:1 transmission. Maximum speed is 39.8 knots at 2500rpm. Fuel tankage is 250 gallons. The jets are steered by a Jastram hydraulic system from a center-line forward operator’s helm. The skipper has a full suite of navigational equipment at his fingertips, including Furuno’s 1623 radar, GP7000F plotter-sounder, FM3000 VHFs, and Saab A4 AIS. ALMAR has several other RIB projects up to 50’ on the drawing board.

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