PORT Phillip Sea Pilots christened their new vessel at a ceremony in Queenscliff last Friday 21 June.

The oldest pilotage service in Victoria have added Torquay to their fleet, coinciding with the company’s 185th anniversary.

The christening was attended by a number of friends and associates of PPSP, including borough of Queenscliffe mayor Ross Ebbels, and featured words by keynote speakers such as member for Bellarine Alison Marchant and PSSP CEO Thorsten Werges.

MP Marchant highlighted in her speech the fuel-efficient specifications of Torquay, namely that it has been equipped to consume 30% less fuel, and is able to be converted to use sustainable fuels in the future.

“The Port of Melbourne is Victoria’s engine room, and sea pilots are vital to that work” she said.

Mr Werges signposted PPSP’s commitment to net-zero moving into the future, “Port Phillip is some of (Victoria’s) most treasured waters”.

“PPSP Is proud to be leading the way to net zero. Thanks to our partners at Hart Marine, the Torquay will reduce fuel consumption by 30%.”

Hart Marine have been frequent collaborators with PPSP, with Torquay marking the seventh partnership in 15 years between the two.

Hart equipped Torquay with the Volvo IPS system to reduce fuel consumption, making it the first PPSP vessel to be equipped with the technology.

Per the Hart Marine website, “Equipped with the advanced Marfle fuel monitoring system, the vessel relays real-time engine telemetry and fuel data to the fleet manager, facilitating agile decision-making”.

Hart say the success of the recent pilot vessel Spirit for Flinders Port Holdings in South Australia surpassed expectations, with PPSP selecting the same specifications for Torquay.

In a display of industry collaboration, Flinders Ports made way for their planned build for a pilot vessel to prioritise the build for PPSP at the Hart factory.

Captain Michael Hansen, who spoke at the christening of Torquay, acknowledged the show of good will from Flinders Ports, “PPSP want to acknowledge Flinders Port and their support providing flexibility in their build schedule to allow for the record turnaround of our project to ensure seamless supply of piloting services in Australia’s busiest port”.

“We’d also like to show our appreciation for Hart who were crucial in the facilitating the collaboration between the three entities ensuring a seamless delivery in record time.”

The change in production order was linked to PPSP’s pilot vessel Corsair, which ran aground on a reef extending from Point Lonsdale in October 2023.

No injuries were reported but the vessel was wrecked.

Port Phillip Sea Pilots are the oldest pilotage company in Victoria, having began in the 19th century before Victoria was a state. The operating license was granted by the New South Wales Government at the time on the condition that “The appointment must not bring any expense on the Government”.

The original pilots camped on the beach at Queenscliff on the site of the current PPSP pilot station, and were taken to and from ships by 30ft whaleboats frequently manned by convicts.