THE new $3.3m custom-built pilot boat utilises high-tech equipment and is designed to maximise safety and efficiency for pilot transfers.

Port of Townsville chief operating officer Drew Penny said the Mantaray had been specifically designed to handle open sea conditions at Abbot Point, where the vessel will be based.

“The Port of Townsville employs 11 marine pilots who are responsible for ensuring vessels safely navigate their way to and from ports in Townsville, Lucinda and Abbot Point,” Mr Penny said.

“The conditions our pilots face in Abbot Point can be slightly more challenging due to the open nature of the harbour.”

Last financial year, the Port of Townsville’s pilots completed 789 pilotage movements at Abbot Point. The journey for the pilot commences from Bowen where the pilot boat is moored.

“As our marine pilots are responsible for safely guiding the large vessels through the compulsory pilotage area of Abbot Point, it is vital that we continuously look for ways to improve their safety at work and ensure continuous service delivery for visiting vessels,” Mr Penny said.

“The purchase of this new pilot vessel offers the latest in safety technology and allows its predecessor, The John Rogers, to join the fleet based at the Townsville Port.”

The Mantaray measures 17.3m long and its design features include:

• The ability to right itself if it capsizes in heavy seas

• Over-sized rudders for improved manoeuvrability

• Wide side-decks for safer pilot transfers

• Wave-piercing beak bow to improve performance and safety; and

• A suspended wheelhouse that reduces noise and vibration.

The Mantaray is the second new pilot vessel purchased by the Port of Townsville since 2017.

“With four pilot vessels now stationed at the Townsville Port, we are well-placed to meet growing trade demands, implement a more rigorous maintenance schedule, and minimise disruption to our pilotage services,” Mr Penny said.

The Mantaray is currently stationed at the Townsville Port for several weeks of tests and training, before it makes its way to Bowen.

The Right Revd Dr Keith Joseph blessing the Mantaray
Captain Timmy Pavri, manager pilots preparing to christen the vessel