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New pilot boat on order as Government replaces old craft

The pilot boat St. David after it was damaged when it ran aground (File photo)

A new pilot boat has been ordered to boost the ageing Marine and Ports fleet, the Government has revealed.

A government spokeswoman said the Gladding-Hearn shipyard in Massachusetts, had won a contract to build a new Chesapeake-class pilot boat to replace the St George, which was “well past its life span”.

But details of the cost of the new vessel were not revealed last night.

The spokeswoman said: “The request for proposal for a new pilot boat was published in the Official Gazette on March 17, 2021. The successful bidder is Gladding-Hearn shipbuilders.

“We expect delivery of one new 52ft Lloyds-class purpose-built boat in September 2022.

Gladding-Hearn is carrying out repairs on Bermuda’s other pilot boat, the St David.

The boat suffered severe damage after an accident during a training exercise for pilots in May of last year.

The UK’s Lloyd's Register, a technical services agency, carried out an investigation into the accident but the Government has so far kept its findings under wraps.

Lawrence Scott, the Minister of Transport, later said that the St David was being repaired at a cost of $600,000 and was expected to return to Bermuda by the end of last August.

But a transport spokeswoman confirmed last November that the vessel was still with Gladding-Hearn.

The spokeswoman said: “The repairs are ongoing and the final cost is yet to be determined. Thus far, all costs are covered by our insurer.”

The pilot boat cost almost $2.8 million when it was built by Gladding-Hearn in 2011 and is insured for $2.8 million.

News of the contract for the new vessel was reported by two online marine publications this week, which said delivery was expected to be made early next year.

An article on the MarineLink website said: “Somerset, Mass, shipbuilder Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding, Duclos Corporation, said it would build a new Chesapeake-class pilot boat for the Bermuda Government's Department of Marine and Port Services.

“The shipyard, which built a 61ft pilot/rescue vessel for the port service in 2011, said the new launch would be built to Lloyd’s Register class for scheduled delivery in early 2023.”

The article added the new vessel would be 52ft long – almost ten feet shorter than the St David.

The Royal Gazette contacted Gladding-Hearn on Tuesday to confirm the contract for a new pilot boat.

Peter Duclos, the company’s president, referred inquiries to the Rudy Cann, the director of the Marine and Ports department.

Mr Cann could not be contacted yesterday.

This newspaper also asked government officials if the repairs to the St David had been completed and if it was back in service.

But there was no response to the questions from the Government by press time tonight.

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Published January 20, 2022 at 7:55 am (Updated January 20, 2022 at 7:55 am)

New pilot boat on order as Government replaces old craft

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