Atlantic Pilotage Authority has christened the first of two new pilot boats it will put into service in Halifax and Saint John. The new M/V Chebucto Pilot will become the main pilot boat in Halifax and replace the present primary pilot boat, which has been in service for 37 years. That vessel will now be used in a back-up role.

The second vessel, M/V Capt. A.G. Soppitt, named after the former CEO of Saint John Port Authority, is under construction and is expected to be put into service in November.

Both aluminum vessels were designed by Lengkeek Vessel Engineering of Dartmouth, N.S., and built by ABCO Industries Ltd. of Lunenburg, N.S.

“We have been waiting a long time for this,” a pleased Captain Anthony McGuinness, CEO of Atlantic Pilotage Authority said as he stood on the dock next to the M/V Chebucto Pilot, shortly before it was christened by Margaret Whittingham-Lamont of Halifax Missions to Seafarers. The vessel was built at a cost of approximately $2.5 million.

Captain McGuinness said that a 17-member committee that included the pilots who will operate the vessel provided design input to Lengkeek’s naval architect Rory MacDonald.

“There were lots of views and opinions and we spent a year in the boardroom with all these groups, and it paid dividends,” said Captain McGuinness.

M/V Chebucto Pilot, constructed to the standards of Lloyd’s Register, has the latest in navigational and radar technology but one of its main features is its stability, said Capt. McGuinness.

“Stability is the biggest thing. It rides very well in different sea conditions,” he said.

The vessel, with its deep V-hull design, has undergone sea trials and has performed beyond expectations, said Captain McGuinness. Powered by twin Caterpillar C18 engines that each produce 715 horsepower, it attained speeds of over 20 knots at only 83 per cent of available engine power. The contract stipulated 18 knots at 85 per cent engine stress.

M/V Chebucto Pilot is expected to be Halifax’s main pilot boat for the next 30 years.

Port of Halifax has 11 pilots who handle slightly less than 3,000 assignments a year.