New pilot boat provides safer transfers at Columbia River and bar

1 Connerfoss1

It would be an understatement to say that Capt. John Ivanoff and deck engineer James Green really like their new pilot boat, the 63-foot  Connor Foss , a Foss Maritime vessel that replaced the venerable 50-year-old Arrow No. 2 in Astoria, Ore., in 2012. 

“It’s a modern high-tech boat,” said Ivanoff. “It has two main engines as opposed to one main on the Arrow, so it’s a much safer boat. When you have a dirty west wind and a 10-foot drop in the tide, it can be nasty out there. The heater and windshield wipers work on this boat, the captain’s chair is great and it has 360° visibility. It’s very comfortable.”

Capt. John Ivanoff standing watch at the console, with 360° visibility from his captain’s chair.

Green, who works on deck during pilot transfers in some of the snarliest weather in the country, applauds the Hadrian Rail. “It’s much safer because the rail makes it much easier to walk out to the bow and the deck has a nice flat surface for walking,” he said.

Foss has provided the Columbia River Bar Pilots and the Columbia River Pilots with launch services since 1993, taking the bar pilots off and putting the river pilots aboard the inbound ships — vice versa for outbounds. The pilot transfers take place within sight of their office and moorage on the historic Astoria waterfront.

The wet exhaust system for the main engines and one of the pilot boat’s two Caterpillar 21-kW C2.2 gensets.

Another nod to safety on Connor Foss is a man-overboard retrieval system with a davit and an electric winch. The new boat has stern controls that Ivanoff applauds as a great addition to safety for transferring the pilots. “And our training stands out above all else,” he said. “We train for man overboard every week.”

There is an onboard speaker system and a wet exhaust system that replaces the traditional stack, providing a clearer stern view for the captain.

The 63-foot vessel, designed by Kvichak  Marine Industries, has a top speed of 17 knots.

The propulsion train on Connor Foss is two six-cylinder Tier II Caterpillar C18 diesels rated at 715 hp each and Twin Disc gears turning 33-inch diameter Michigan Wheel M-500 propellers. The top speed is 17 knots. A pair of Caterpillar 21-kW C2.2 gensets supply the auxiliary power.

Kvichak Marine Industries of Seattle designed  Conner Foss  based on the pilot boat Skomer operating at the port of Milford Haven, Wales. Foss cons tructed the vessel at its Rainier, Ore., shipyard. Connor Foss is named after Connor Hansen, great-great-great-grandson of Andrew and Thea Foss, founders of Foss Maritime in 1889.





Ivanoff and Green on the deck of Connor Foss.

The pilot boat’s air intake and engine vents are positioned away from spray at the stern.



Deck engineer James Green stands by while Columbia River Bar Pilot Mike Tierney boards Connor Foss from the bulk carrier Ton Hill II.

Green in the engine compartment with two Caterpillar C18 main diesel engines.


By Professional Mariner Staff