July 14, 2020 – Delta Launch Services, the operating company for the Associated Branch pilots on the Southwest Pass of the Mississippi, has taken delivery of a new pilot boat from Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding, Duclos Corporation. It is the sixth St. John’s Class launch built for the Delta pilots by the Somerset, Mass. shipyard.
The new launch, a sister-ship to the Assistant delivered in 2018, measures of 52 feet 6 inches overall, with a beam of 16 feet 11 inches and a draft of 4 feet 8 inches.
The all-aluminum boat features the Ray Hunt Designs Deep-V hull. It is powered by twin Caterpillar C-18 EPA Tier 3 diesel engines, each delivering 671 bhp at 2,100 rpm, and turning five-bladed Bruntons NiBrAl propellers via Twin Disc MG5136A gears to give the vessel a a top speed of 26 knots.
The wheelhouse, with a small trunk, is flush-mounted to the deck amidships. Aft of its helm station are six Llebroc pilot seats. The forecastle is equipped with enclosed marine head, settee and three berths. The wheelhouse and forecastle are heated and cooled by three reverse-cycle air-conditioning units, totaling 40,000 Btu.
Outside of the wheelhouse are wide side decks, a rear and side doors, and hinged boarding platforms on the roof. At the transom is a winch-operated, rotating davit over a recessed platform for rescue operations.
The new launch is USCG Subchapter-T certified to carry twelve passengers for hire.