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Norfolk boat builder to help revolutionise industry with groundbreaking hybrid pilot boat

June 12, 2018

Orc Hybrid Pilot Boat
Alan Goodchild, Managing Director of Goodchild Marine Services Limited, with Robin Mortimer, PLA Chief Executive, at the formal signing of the ORC 136.HY contract.

Alan Goodchild, Managing Director of Goodchild Marine Services Limited, with Robin Mortimer, PLA Chief Executive, at the formal signing of the ORC 136.HY contract.

The Port of London Authority (PLA) has ordered the UK’s first hybrid pilot boat from Goodchild Marine Services Limited in a move that is set to underpin dramatic environmental performance improvements.

The vessel, set to completely change the face of the pilot boat industry by drastically reducing the release of greenhouse gases into the environment, will be constructed by the innovative Norfolk boat builder.

The ORC 136.HY, a parallel hybrid pilot boat, will combine both diesel and electric power and has been designed to be completely emission-free when operating in electric mode.

The PLA has placed the order as it starts to deliver on the commitments in its recently published Air Quality Strategy for the tidal Thames – also the first of its kind for any UK Port.

Among the 18 proposals for action is a commitment to encourage the installation of green technology.

Goodchild Marine Services Limited, a family-run business in Burgh Castle, near Great Yarmouth – whose ORC flagship range lends itself to incorporating hybrid power – is partnering with EP Barrus for the “Yanmar” engines, and transmission specialists, Marine and Industrial Transmissions Limited for the “Transfluid” Hybrid system, to deliver a plug-in diesel hybrid pilot boat.

The hull will be based on the established ‘ORC’ design, developed by naval architects Pantocarene and adapted by Goodchild Marine for the UK market.

ORCs feature a unique ‘beak’ bow design, which gives it unmatched all-weather capability.

The new hybrid vessel is due for delivery spring 2019.

PLA Chief Executive, Robin Mortimer, said: “We are in the environmental vanguard in the UK ports sector – following the first green tariff and first air quality strategy, with the first hybrid pilot cutter order.  Introducing the hybrid boat is going to result in a major improvement in the environmental performance of our operations.

“We expect that through the power train, hull design and lower weight, the hybrid cutter will use less than 10% of the fuel used by our current pilot vessel, with carbon dioxide emissions similarly reduced. That should see us going from using 86,000 litres of fuel for our pilot cutter operations a year to around 7,000 litres.

“It’s fantastic that we have been able to partner with Goodchild Marine on this groundbreaking move for the UK ports sector.”

London is the UK’s second biggest port, handling around 50m tonnes of cargo annually; PLA pilots undertake more than 10,000 pilotage acts a year.

The new pilot cutter, which is expected to reach up to 15 knots under hybrid power, will be used by the PLA for the transfer of pilots to and from vessels in Gravesend Reach.

Alan Goodchild, Managing Director of Goodchild Marine Services Limited, said the company was delighted to respond to developing technology and market interest.

“We are extremely proud in our 40th anniversary year to have secured the contract to build what is thought to be the first hybrid pilot boat. We already have a working relationship in place with the PLA and we have drawn upon some of the most respected and talented partners in the industry to collaborate with in facilitating the project.

“Our flagship ORC range of pilot boats are extremely fuel efficient because the hull shape is light and has minimal drag, meaning the envelope of operating under hybrid power is greater.

“Providing the vessel is operated under electric mode for the majority of the time it will make a significant impact upon the carbon footprint.  Other than the generation of electricity through the national grid, there are no emissions. We are already witnessing low emission lorries and taxis, and diesel is being banned in some cities, so it makes sense that boats are next.

“There are lots of hybrid boats on the market, but in my opinion, not like this. It’s down to the application, the speed it must reach, where it operates and the time its working over the course of the day, which means it is a challenge to achieve.

“Passenger boats, such as ferries are low speed on a pre-determined duty cycle and there are times they can be plugged in and re-charged.

“Pilot boats however, can be erratic on duty cycle and speed requirements, so to achieve 15 knots under hybrid power is a leap and perhaps why no-one else, to the best of my knowledge, has gone for it.”

Marine and Industrial Transmissions Limited (MIT) and its manufacturing and technology partners Transfluid will provide the hybrid system.

John Logue, Managing Director of MIT, said: “Our manufacturing and technology partners Transfluid have invested heavily in the development of our plug and play electric/hybrid system and have numerous reference projects around the world. However the PLA project is unique in that it is a first for a UK pilot vessel and will operate at speeds up to 15 knots in electric mode.

“Combined with our Twin Disc marine gear the electric/hybrid system will provide controlled propulsion power transfer, helping to ensure a smooth operation.

“This system will help reduce emissions, pollutants and noise whilst operating on the Thames, thereby delivering an environmental benefit for years to come.”

Robert Plant, General Manager, for the Marine Diesel Division of EP Barrus, suppliers of the engines, said the twin Yanmar 6LY400 engines form part of a new 6LY-CR family of six-cylinder inboard diesel engines, which are reliable and efficient.

“Having worked with the PLA and MIT on a number of applications in the past, we were pleased to have been approached by Goodchild Marine to supply the engines for the first hybrid pilot boat.

“Environmentally friendly with superior power-to-weight ratio, these engines deliver class leading performance and suit this application perfectly.

“We are excited to be part of this new wave of technology and look forward to seeing the final result out on the water.”

Other vessels which may benefit from a hybrid solution include survey vessels, harbour workboats, passenger vessels, and patrol boats.

Goodchild Marine Services Limited, which is currently celebrating its 40th anniversary year, will be exhibiting the first 13m ORC to enter service in the UK at Seawork, in Southampton, from July 3 to 5.

Tony Birr, Business Development Manager, will also take a speaker slot during the exhibition and conference to discuss hybrid power options.

Also on the pontoon will be Commercial Rib Charter’s latest 14.5m aluminium Crew Transfer Vessel.

CRC have already taken delivery of a similar vessel in GRP ‘Galaxy’ which is proving very popular.

On stand PB38, there will be a working model of Goodchild Marine Services Limited’s Man Overboard Recovery Platform, which is available to supply for retro fit and new builds.

For those involved in dredging, the company is the UK agent for Italdraghe and will have a full size hydraulic dredging head on show for fitting to any hydraulic excavator, making it a mobile cutter suction dredger.

Media Contact: Produced and distributed on behalf of Goodchild Marine Services Limited by TMS Media. Contact Alan Goodchild, Managing Director or Steve Pierce, General Manager, 01493 782301, or Louisa Lay, 01493 662929,

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