Port of London Authority orders first hybrid vessel

Port of London Authority has announced the order of a plug-in diesel hybrid vessel to be deployed as part of its fleet operating on the River Thames from Spring 2019.

The order of the vessel from Norfolk boat-builder Goodchild Marine, thought to be the first of its kind in use in the UK, builds on a commitment to reduce emissions from vessels operating on the river in a bid to improve air quality from PLA operations.

The vessel is expected to be ready from Spring 2019

Goodchild Marine is partnering with EP Barrus for the Yanmar engines, and transmission specialists, Marine and Industrial Transmissions Limited for the Transfluid Hybrid system, to deliver the plug-in diesel hybrid pilot boat.

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


The new hybrid vessel is due for delivery spring 2019, and will replace a 1982 built pilot cutter, ‘Patrol’, which is powered by twin Scania diesel engines.

The ORC hull design typically uses 40% less diesel per nautical mile than a conventional hull such as Patrol and fuel consumption is further reduced as the ORC is less than half the weight of Patrol, the manufacturers claim.

The batteries of the hybrid cutter will be charged from existing shore power facilities while it’s alongside at the PLA’s Royal Terrace Pier in Gravesend. The boat will run on batteries for approximately 40 nautical miles on one charge at speeds up to 15 knots.

The diesel engines will boost top speed up to 19 knots and provide a backup to the electric propulsion for longer duty cycles. The diesel engine will also charge the batteries while providing propulsion.

The new pilot cutter will be used by the PLA for the transfer of pilots to and from vessels in Gravesend Reach.

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 on this groundbreaking move for the UK ports sector.”


Announcement of the vessel order comes as the PLA publishes the final version of its Air Quality Strategy.

The plan is thought to be the first draft Air Quality Strategy to have been published by a UK port, and has been developed in light of projected growth in river use over the next two decades, alongside concerns over air quality in urban centres.

The Strategy includes targets to reach over the next 25 years, in particular the reduction of NOX and PM by 50%, whilst still growing activity within the Port of London. The Strategy proposes a total of 18 actions which will be implemented over the next five years, including stricter monitoring of air pollution around the tidal Thames to assess current pollutant levels and assess the effectiveness of any measures implemented.

Related Links
Port of London Authority Air Quality Strategy


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