Sabine Pilots bank on new boat’s deep-V hull design


The Sabine Pilots took delivery of the 53.5-foot Port Arthur, a Chesapeake-class aluminum pilot boat from Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding of Somerset, Mass., last spring. Port Arthur replaced the 45-foot Sabine Pass Pilot built by Breaux’s Bay Craft in Loreauville, La., in 1975.

“It will mainly be used to board pilots on our bar and to board and disembark pilots from LNG ships at the berth,” said Capt. Andrew Guidry. A pilot for 12 years, Guidry is also the newbuild superintendent who shepherded Port Arthur through the construction process. “It will also be used to run to our sea buoy when the big boats are not required. The fuel consumption is half of the bigger boats and it makes the same speed, 25 knots.”

The big boats are the 72-foot Sabine Bank Pilot, built by Kvichak in 2003, and the 61-foot Sabine Pilot and 75-foot Sabine Pilot II, both built by Breaux’s Bay Craft in 1984 and 1995, respectively.

Designed by C. Raymond Hunt Associates of New Bedford, Mass., Port Arthur is fitted with twin 715-hp Caterpillar C18 diesels and Twin Disc MGX-5135A QuickShift gears turning five-blade nibral propellers.

The Raymond Hunt deep-V hull design has a sharp entry forward and a V-shaped bottom that culminates in excess of 20 degrees of deadrise at the transom. The hull shape provides superior performance, comfort and handling characteristics in all weather, according to Peter Duclos, president of Gladding-Hearn.

Mate David Seymour mans the helm on Port Arthur with watch captain Leslie Tucker.

The speed and trim of the vessel have been optimized with the addition of a Humphree Interceptor trim control system, which provides stern lift. Duclos said Gladding-Hearn has used Humphree systems on more than 20 pilot and patrol boats since 2009.  

Duclos said Port Arthur is the first U.S. boat to use the Harken TR31 safety rail system. A crewmember can be tethered to a trolley on a continuous rail that rounds the curve of the house while assisting in a pilot transfer or conducting other on-deck activities. 

“The Harken system is maybe the best feature of the boat,” said Mark Weaver, a watch captain with the Sabine Pilots for over 30 years. “You can stay hooked in from port to starboard.”

Port Arthur has boarding platforms on the roof and at the bow. On the aft deck there are throttle and steering controls and, at the transom, a rescue system that includes access to the waterline.

Along the Sabine-Neches Waterway, the combined Texas ports of Orange, Port Arthur and Beaumont handle 7,500 cargo ship visits annually, 75 percent of them tankers. Recently, an average of one LNG ship per week has been calling at the Cheniere LNG plant at Sabine Pass to take on liquefied natural gas for export. The Sabine Pilots operate in the third largest port for tonnage and second largest for crude imports in the country, behind Los Angeles/Long Beach and Galveston/Texas City/Houston.


Seymour walks the deck with the assistance of the Harken TR31 safety rail system.


The day boat has two bunks and a mini-galley area.


The boat’s transom features a winch-operated hinged rescue basket and access platform.


Two Cat C18 mains provide 715 hp each at 2,100 rpm.


By Professional Mariner Staff