Metal Shark Delivers Pilot Boat to Pascagoula Pilots
Boat builder Metal Shark said it has delivered a 55- by 17-foot welded aluminum pilot boat to the Pascagoula Bar Pilots Association in Mississippi.
Designed by Metal Shark’s in-house engineering team and built at the company’s Franklin, La. shipyard, the new Singing River Island is the second Metal Shark pilot boat to join the Pascagoula Pilots fleet. It represents the latest evolution in the Louisiana-based builder’s Defiant-class pilot boat lineup, combining a proven hull form with a modern, crew-friendly arrangement designed to deliver class-leading comfort, safety, efficiency, and performance, the builder said.
“Metal Shark has succeeded in combining quality and comfort,” said Pascagoula Bar Pilots Association Captain Walter Gautier. “This vessel is proving daily to be a safe and pilot-friendly platform for transfers at sea.”
Metal Shark’s military-proven Defiant-class monohull pilothouse vessels are active across a wide range of markets, with hundreds of parent-class vessels in service worldwide. For its pilot boat clients, Metal Shark pairs the Defiant hull form with a bespoke arrangement designed specifically for pilotage. Flat, non-skid decks run from bow to stern and allow pilots to move quickly and safely around the vessel, rugged pilot-specific fendering systems absorb impacts, and stern corners and bow feature a gentle radius to allow easy underway separation from ships following pilot transfer. Safety rails and grab handles are carefully placed, and pilot boarding platforms are configured to suit the requirements of each operator. For Pascagoula, a foredeck transfer zone features integrated port, starboard, and forward stairways leading to two deployable platforms, allowing pilots to quickly and safely board ships from either side of the vessel.
The 55 Defiant Pilot pilothouse features Metal Shark’s signature “pillarless glass” with reverse-raked windshield to significantly reduce blind spots. A two-tiered side window arrangement, with a second row of windows below the belt line, provides unmatched downward-angle visibility from the helm during alongside maneuvers or man-overboard retrieval. A panoramic skylight array provides an unobstructed upwards view while operating alongside ships during pilot transfer.
As built for Pascagoula Pilots, the 55 Defiant’s spacious climate-controlled cabin is equipped with four Dometic HVAC units and offers seating for seven, accommodating a single operator forward plus six pilot passengers. For comfort and convenience, each swivel seating position is equipped with a footrest, adjustable armrests, white/red LED lighting, a drink holder, and two 12-volt USB outlets.
A full electronics suite includes Furuno TZtouch2 multifunction black box system with integrated GPS, radar, depth sounder, and a FLIR M-series 364C premium thermal imaging system for nighttime operations. Five closed-circuit cameras allow the vessel’s operator to monitor the engine room and aft deck from multiple angles at a glance while still maintaining watch. All of these features are displayed on three 19” Nauticomp GB Elite Series multi-touch displays.
Belowdecks accommodations include an enclosed head compartment with fresh water sink, bunks, and individual storage lockers for crew members’ personal items. Acoustic insulation and flooring are employed throughout the vessel to reduce noise and vibration
To meet the client’s performance requirements, Metal Shark equipped the Singing River Island with twin 803-horsepower Cat C18 engines turning Michigan Wheel 34” diameter Nibral four-blade propellers through Twin Disc MGX5146A 1.961 gears. This combination delivers a cruise speed in the 25-knot range and a top speed approaching 30 knots. An 800-gallon fuel capacity allows for a cruise speed range of approximately 280 nautical miles.
The new vessel is the latest result of Metal Shark’s ongoing expansion into the pilot boat market, following two 45-foot Defiant pilot boats delivered to Belle Chasse Marine Transportation in late 2019, and 45-foot and 64-foot Defiant pilot boats delivered in 2018.
“Through an unwavering commitment to product improvement and a significant investment in engineering, we continue to expand and evolve our portfolio,” said Metal Shark CEO Chris Allard. “In the past two years we have delivered entirely new 32’, 38’, 40’, 50’, 55’, and 70’ Defiant models, each utilizing an extensively proven hull form and optimized for its specific mission. By working closely with our customers and continually monitoring market trends, we strive to be predictive instead of reactive, designing and building increasingly modern, capable, and crew-friendly vessels and delivering them sooner.”