Falmouth Harbour inviting UK tenders to build ‘greenest’ £1m+ pilot boat

Falmouth Harbour (FH) is inviting boatbuilders around the UK to tender for the construction of a clean, green, fuel-efficient pilot vessel to join a fleet operating 24/7, 365 days a year and completing more than 1,000 boardings and landings per year within the Falmouth pilotage area.

In a tender process, which went live on 26 July, FH aims to appoint a builder in October 2022 with a view to having the new, 16-18m dedicated coded pilot vessel operational in 2024.

Falmouth Harbour is looking to the UK’s network of builders to receive proposals that make full use of modern advances in fuel-saving technology, safety and crew welfare. The value of the project is expected to be between £1.1 to £1.4 million and will take up to three years to complete. When in commission the new vessel will be one of the UK’s greenest and most efficient vessels of its type.

The Harbour Board will evaluate tenders received and appoint a vessel builder based on criteria that includes: the suitability of the proposed vessel for operations specific to the Falmouth Harbour operating environments, capability to deliver vessel in service by the end of 2024, price and track record and experience of delivering pilot boats successfully into service in the UK.   

Organisations interested in building the new vessel should send a simple confirmation of their intention to respond by 2 August 2022.

“This long-awaited procurement represents a very exciting time for us as an organisation,” says Falmouth Harbour CEO Miles Carden. “The new vessel will be a significant step forward in technology, fuel efficiency and sustainability and will modernise Falmouth Harbour’s Pilotage service, securing safe and efficient operations for the future benefit of the Port and its many stakeholders.

“This is a considerable investment in the future of our harbour and potentially allows us to modernise our operations so we are absolutely fit for purpose and can realise future opportunities around technologies such as floating offshore wind. This is a generational investment of over £1m in our future sustainable operations.”

Falmouth Harbour’s two current all-weather coded pilot boats operated are Arrow, a 16.7m Halmatic-built modern pilot vessel built in 2006 and the LK Mitchell, a 17.5m Nelson 56 pilot vessel built in 1978. A two-boat operation, with the vessels operated in rotation, is essential to ensure complete coverage of the area and allow for vessel downtime and maintenance. 

The new vessel will replace the LK Mitchell, which was built in 1978 and has been operating as a Falmouth pilot boat ever since.

“At 44 years old LK Mitchell is fast approaching a point where she is no longer economically viable to operate to the standards required of a 24/7 operation in Falmouth,” says Miles. “She has been a loyal servant to our port but the time to replace her has come. We will outline this vessel’s future in the coming months and we hope to redeploy her in a second, less demanding commercial life.”   

Falmouth Pilot Services (FPS) is a service arm of Falmouth Harbour Commissioners and Falmouth Harbour is the pilotage authority for the Falmouth pilotage area, which spans from Black Head to the Dodman including Falmouth Bay, the Helford and Percuil rivers, the Carrick Roads and the River Fal.

FPS provide pilotage services to Falmouth Dock operators A&P Falmouth and Cornwall Council, which runs the ports of Truro and Penryn under an agency agreement. Falmouth Pilot Services has the remit to supply safe and efficient pilotage for the area on behalf of the many businesses and organisations that operate within it.

Falmouth Harbour’s invitation to tender document contains full instructions on the tendering process and sets out the Harbour’s requirements. Further detail can be found on the Falmouth Harbour website.

All interested parties will need to sign a non-disclosure agreement before full documentation is sent.   

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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