Alabama pilots order second Gladding-Hearn launch

(SOMERSET, Mass.) — The Alabama Pilot Inc. in Mobile, Ala., has ordered its second Chesapeake-class high-speed pilot boat from Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding, Duclos Corp. Delivery of the new 53-footer is set for mid-2023; delivery of its first Chesapeake launch, Dixey, was in 2017.

With a length overall of 53.6 feet, a beam of 17.8 feet, and a draft of 4.6 feet, the all-aluminum pilot boat features the Ray Hunt Design deep-V hull. It will be powered by twin Caterpillar C-18 diesel engines, each delivering 671 hp at 2,100 rpm and a top speed of 25 knots. A Humphree interceptor, with automatic trim optimization, will be installed at the transom.

Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding photo

The engines will turn five-blade nibral propellers via Twin Disc MGX-5136A Quickshift gears. The launch will be equipped with a 9-kW Northern Lights EPA Tier 3-compliant genset. Diesel capacity is 800 gallons, which shipyard officials say will provide a range of at least 380 miles at an economical speed of about 20 knots.

The wheelhouse, flush-mounted to the deck amidships and with forward-leaning front windows, will be outfitted with six Llebroc pilot seats — one at the centerline helm station and the observer’s seat to port and four single pilot seats, aft of the helm station. The forecastle will include a reclining seat and upholstered settee, with storage below. The wheelhouse and forecastle will be cooled by two 16,000-BTU air-conditioning units.

Outside of the wheelhouse are wide side decks, side and rear doors, and boarding platforms on the roof. At the transom are throttle and steering controls and a winch-operated, rotating davit over a recessed platform for rescue operations.

– Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding

By Rich Miller