Kvichak wins contract to build green boats for Dutch pilots

The three 72-foot pilot boats designed by Camarc will feature an ultra-low emissions system to meet strict European pollution rules. Courtesy Camarc Design

A longtime relationship between Kvichak Marine Industries of Seattle and the pilots associations for the Netherlands and the Columbia River Bar has led to an order for three 72-foot fast pilot boats for export to Holland.

The launches will feature an ultra-low emissions system to meet strict pollution limits imposed by the European Union (EU).

The designer is Camarc Design, a British company that has worked with the Rotterdam pilots for many years. The pilots, who number about 450, plus another 450 support staff, are among the busiest in the world and use a combination of 25 pilot vessels and helicopters. So it was only natural that 10 years ago, when the Columbia River Bar Pilots, who operate one of the most dangerous pilotages in the world, went looking for a new boat of their own, they went to Rotterdam to ride the pilot launches there.

The result of that visit was Chinook, a 72-footer designed by Camarc and built by Kvichak. Nine years later, Chinook was followed by Columbia and that was when the Rotterdam pilots came to learn from the Columbia Bar pilots.

“We spent two days • just basically trading information," said Keith Whittemore, Kvichak’s president. “Out of those meetings with all the pilots and Camarc came substantial changes — upgrades to their planning and design. They’ve been incorporated into the newbuilds."

Power for the new launches will come from two Cat C-32 ACERT marine diesels rated at 1,300-bhp driving ZF 3050 gears that power Hamilton 651 waterjets. Two Northern Lights M944T gensets deliver 32-kW at 50-Hz.

The boats offer seating for three operators and 12 pilots. The house is cushioned to reduce noise and vibration, and it can be popped off for access to the engines. “Not many pilot boats are built that way," said Whittemore. “It makes it a little heavier, but it really, really improves customer comfort."

Emission reductions begin with the two Cat diesels, which meet Environmental Protection Agency Tier-2 standards. “They’re already pretty clean engines," said Whittemore. “On top of that, we’re putting in an after-treatment system that is not only a soot filter but an SCR filter."

SCR stands for selective catalytic reduction, which breaks down nitrogen oxides as the exhaust leaves the engine. Kvichak had recent experience with this technology aboard Gemini, a San Francisco commuter ferry that it built with Nichols Brothers (American Ship Review 2008-2009, PM #119).

The emission control system aboard the pilot boats comes from Hug Engineering of Switzerland and the Dutch company SootTech. The two companies are also collaborating on “Europe’s Cleanest Ship," an ultra-low-emissions lube oil barge operating as a demonstration project in the ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp, Belgium.

Ton Schouten, manager/newbuilds for the Dutch pilots, said his association is determined to adopt the latest measures to protect the environment as it develops its fleet. “The European Union defined the North Sea as a Sulfur Emissions Control Area (and) the Port of Rotterdam is taking the lead on environmental protection measures in the Hamburg-Le Havre range of ports," he said.

Schouten said the pilots are implementing a wide range of initiatives, including hull, rudder and propeller optimization, low-sulfur fuel, clean lube oil, shore power, LED lighting and environmentally friendly paint. “By all this our emission performance will have a reduction of 98 percent of particulate matter and 60 percent reduction of NOx and SOx, fulfilling all requirements up to 2018 set by IMO (International Maritime Organization) and EU guidelines," said Schouten.

Building three boats for export is quite a coup for a U.S. yard. The dollar’s weakness helped seal the deal, but Whittemore added: “From a company standpoint, we are very proud. These guys can build anywhere in the world." The first launch is scheduled for December delivery, with boats to follow in February and March 2010. •

By Professional Mariner Staff