Canaveral Pilots team with Glosten and Ray Hunt on electric pilot boat project

Written by Nick Blenkey
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Boat will feature a Ray Hunt hull form outfitted with a Glosten-designed battery propulsion system

The Canaveral Pilots Association has partnered with naval architecture firms Glosten and Ray Hunt Design on a pilot/demonstration project for the design, construction, and operation of an electric pilot boat.

The boat will feature a battery-electric propulsion system with an emergency “get home” diesel engine. Once in service, it will serve as one of two primary boats for supporting pilotage operations in Port Canaveral, Fla.

During the feasibility-level engineering, the team established that a Ray Hunt hull form outfitted with a Glosten-designed battery propulsion system will achieve the speed and operating range required to support normal pilotage operations in Port Canaveral.

“We are happy with how this is taking shape,” said Morgan Fanberg, President of Glosten. “Ray Hunt brings a wealth of knowledge on planing hulls and pilot vessels, specifically. Combining that with our own experience in electric propulsions systems, we hope to provide an excellent working solution for Canaveral Pilots.”

Specific design details remain confidential at this stage, but the minimum performance criteria established by Port Canaveral included a cruising speed of 18 knots and an operating range (on battery propulsion only) of 24 nautical miles.

Currently, there are no pilot boats operating in the U.S. with hybrid or fully electric propulsion systems.

“The technology isn’t necessarily new. The challenge is managing total weight in relation to the hull form and the required operating profile,” says Winn Willard, President of Ray Hunt. “Because we are seeing a growing interest in such vessels, it made sense to partner with Glosten to work through those technical challenges.”

With feasibility-level engineering now complete, the next step for the Glosten-led team is the development of a draft program for the pilot/demonstration project to be used for Federal and/or State grant funding solicitations.

“We are excited to forge ahead with Glosten and Ray Hunt on this project,” said Brendan McMillin, Co-chairman of Canaveral Pilots. “This presents an opportunity not only to reduce some of our maintenance and operating costs, but to demonstrate that electric propulsion can be adopted by marine pilot associations on a broader scale.”

The Canaveral Pilots Association is a 10-member association of state and federally licensed marine pilots providing pilotage services for Port Canaveral, Florida, considered the second-busiest cruise ship port in the world by number of passengers. The association currently operates two conventional diesel-powered pilot boats that it relies upon to perform (collectively) more than 2,000 individual pilot movements per year, on average.

Ray Hunt Design is one of the most widely recognized names in small boat naval architecture, in particular for designs utilizing the high deadrise hull form known as the Hunt deep-V. As the originator of the deep-V, Ray Hunt Design has more than 60 years of experience in the refinement of this hull form to suit a range of semidisplacement and planing hull applications.

Ray Hunt Design has designed pilot boats – ranging from 38 to 75 feet – for more than 25 different pilot associations currently operating in North America.

Glosten is a full-service consulting firm of naval architects and marine, electrical, production, and ocean engineers. Founded in 1958, the firm is recognized for integrating advanced analysis with practical, experience-based design. In recent years, Glosten has emerged as an industry leader in the design of hybrid and electrically propelled commercial vessels, with two such vessels already in operation. The firm’s electrically powered designs include both catamarans and monohulls, ranging from 70 to 160 feet in length.

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