Pragmatic and Efficient, Enterprising and Discipline
An aluminium pilot boat delivered for the West Coast of New Zealand has an unusual secondary purpose – as an OSV to the country’s most active offshore oil and gas platforms.
Designed by United Kingdom-based naval architect Camarc Design and constructed under survey to both Maritime New Zealand and Lloyd’s Register, the pilot boat ‘Mikotahi’ performs a secondary role as a backup crew transfer vessel to the oil and gas platforms located offshore Taranaki – in particular the unmanned platform ‘Pohokura’, situated 18 nautical miles from the coast.
In order to fulfill this other highly specialised role, the ‘Mikotahi’ is self-righting and complies with North Sea requirements when coming up near the rig. Safety features for the vessel include installed hydrocarbon detectors and a fire-resistant mist system, which engulfs the entire vessel in a fine mist in case of fire.
Other safety equipment includes a specialised crew transfer system to and from offshore installations, and a custom fendering system to protect the craft’s exterior from offshore installations.
When ordering the vessel, New Plymouth-based port operator Port Taranaki Limited put out a worldwide tender for a proven pilot boat design with jet propulsion and a range of capabilities that extended beyond what’s expected of a traditional pilot vessel. Camarc Design, partnering with a New Zealand-based builder, answered the call.
The finished vessel measures 19.5 metres in length overall, with a beam of 5.7 metres and a draught of one metre. A pair of 662kW engines powers the vessel, each driving a HamiltonJet HM461 waterjet via a ZF gearbox. The vessel has a service speed of 23 knots.
Despite its dual-purpose nature, the ‘Mikotahi’ is first and foremost a pilot boat. Displacing 31 tonnes fully loaded, the vessel’s pilot transfer duties see her regularly travelling far beyond Port Taranaki’s breakwater into the open ocean.
The pilot boat will run about six to eight nautical miles out for pilot transfer in open water, signaling the requirement for a longer nearly 20-metre footprint.