Humphree stabilizers installed on three whale-watch boats, four pilot boats


(SELBYVILLE, Del.) — Humphree USA interceptors and automatic computer-controlled stabilization systems have been installed on three whale-watching vessels and four pilot boats in recent months, giving passengers and crews a smooth, stable ride even under severe wind and sea conditions.

The Humphree-equipped tour vessels include two newbuilds in New England and a retrofit in Alaska.

Humphree’s electric-powered transom-mounted interceptors with fast-acting vertical blades react in milliseconds to create lift counteracting roll and pitch motions. Active Ride Control is a highly sophisticated digital system that uses inputs from GPS, gyro and accelerometers to measure 3D rates of turn and acceleration and feeds orders to adjust the interceptors automatically. In addition to stabilizing for roll and pitch, Active Ride Control automatically optimizes the boat’s trim and list angles.

Coastal Explorer, a 98-foot catamaran passenger vessel, designed by Incat Crowther and built by Gulf Craft, was delivered to Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co. in August, joining two similar sister craft in the fleet. The vessel carries up to 149 passengers and is used for whale-watching excursions, nature tours and tender services for cruise ships calling at the port. The waterjet-propelled vessel is equipped with four electric-powered Humphree HA 1000 transom-mounted interceptors, two mounted on each hull and Active Ride Control. Service speed is 28 knots at a modest engine load.

Provincetown, Mass.-based Dolphin Fleet took delivery of its latest Incat Crowther-designed whale-watching vessel from Gulf Craft in May. The new 114-foot aluminum vessel, designated Dolphin XI, accommodates up to 360 passengers with a cruising speed of 30-plus knots. Stabilization is provided by a pair of custom tunnel-shaped HE 1500 interceptors with Active Ride Control. It also includes Coordinated Turn Control that adjusts the heeling angle during turns allowing shorter radius maneuvers at speed, yielding better maneuverability and passenger comfort.

Humphree also provided the stabilization system for a recent retrofit on Nunatak, a whale-watching vessel operated by Kenai Fjords in Seward, Alaska. The package included twin custom tunnel-shaped HE 1500 interceptors with Active Ride Control.

“Passenger comfort is a number one priority when it comes to running whale-watching vessels, which operate in places where strong winds, currents and rough seas are often encountered,” said Matt Ketchen, vessel operations manager for Bar Harbor Whale Watching Co. “The Humphree interceptor system minimizes passenger discomfort and seasickness regardless of the winds and waves. And the automatic tilt, list and turn control functions improve performance and give us better fuel economy.”

“We are getting increasing demand from architects, builders and operators specifying the Humphree stabilization systems on catamaran and monohull passenger vessels,” said Sean Berrie, CEO of Humphree USA. “We deliver a field-proven fully automatic solution that provides improved passenger satisfaction and safety, optimizes vessel performance and boosts fuel economy.”

The Brazos Pilots Association in Texas recently took delivery of a new 64-foot launch equipped with a pair of Humphree custom tunnel-shaped HE 900 interceptors with automatic trim control. The Defiant-class custom-welded aluminum vessel, which was designed and built by Metal Shark, boasts a top speed of over 28 knots with a nominal cruising speed of 18 knots.

The new 75.7-foot Galveston-class pilot boat delivered in March to the Southwest Alaska Pilots Association has two HA 1100 interceptors with Active Ride Control, including auto trim and auto list. The waterjet-propelled launch with a top speed of 28 knots was designed by C. Raymond Hunt and built by Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding, Duclos Corp.

The latest addition to the Lake Charles Pilots Association Fleet is a 70-foot all-aluminum boat equipped with twin custom tunnel-shaped HE 1500 interceptors with Active Ride Control, including auto trim and auto list. The builder was Gladding-Hearn, and the architect was C. Raymond Hunt.

The Humphree stabilization package for Tampa Bay Pilots’ new 54-foot launch from Breaux Bay Craft includes two HE 1250 interceptors with Active Ride Control and Coordinated Turn Control.

In addition to these recent deliveries, Humphree interceptors and automatic stabilization systems are specified on five new pilot boats currently under construction. They include newbuilds for Virginia Pilots and Seaway Pilots from Gladding-Hearn, Los Angeles Pilots from Vigor, and Long Beach Pilots from Nordlund Boat Co. The Long Beach Pilots vessel will include a set of Humphree fixed fins for course stabilization as well as interceptors with Active Ride Control and Coordinated Turn Control.

“In pilotage operations, we are required to operate day and night regardless of the weather, and it’s vitally important to provide a safe platform for embarking and boarding pilots," said Capt. Ron Ward of the Southwest Alaska Pilots Association. "We are very impressed with the ability of the Humphree interceptors and Active Ride Control to hold the boat steady and stable even with high winds and heavy seas and swells.”

“We are installing Humphree interceptors as standard fit on most of our new Chesapeake-class pilot boats in response to demand from our customers," said Peter Duclos, president of Gladding-Hearn. "They are far superior to traditional trim tabs and do not require high-maintenance hydraulics.”

By Professional Mariner Staff