LEADING INTERNATIONAL MARITIME MAGAZINE

iXblue builds a second pilot boat for Toulon

The new pilot boat for the Port of Toulon, built by iXblue shipyard in La Ciotat, was delivered to the pilots of the Var department at the end of November 2017 for immediate entry into service.

The craft, named Mejean, will join the first pilot boat previously delivered to the Port of Toulon by iXblue.

“We were highly satisfied with the construction of the first vessel delivered by iXblue. Their approach to project control was extremely professional and the digital tools used in the construction allowed them to do very interesting things, particularly in terms of the hull, making it lighter and of better quality,” explains Nicolas Marçais, pilot and equipment manager of the pilot station. “Everything is clean and tidy, and the seagoing characteristics of the craft are excellent. Almost 6 years after entry into service of our first boat, it's still as good as new. So, it was quite natural for us to approach iXblue for the design of a second pilot boat.”

With an overall length of 11.95 meters and a draft of 0.9 meters, the vessel can reach speeds exceeding 30 knots (23 knots in cruising speed) and accommodate 5 passengers and a pilot boat skipper.

Construction of the pilot boat was designed to meet the needs of Toulon pilots as closely as possible, offering robust composite construction for easy maintenance and servicing. The hull of the craft, based on the drawings of naval architect Gilles Vaton, allows excellent responsiveness with good seagoing characteristics, even at high speeds in heavy seas. Equipped with two Volvo Penta IPS engines to ensure better manoeuvrability of the vessel, it offers improved speed performance for the same power output. Crew comfort was also a central focus of the pilot boat's overall design with a bridge and interior layout designed to offer the crew maximum comfort.

“We worked in close collaboration with iXblue throughout the design process for the new pilot boat. The teams in La Ciotat listened carefully to our needs and were able to design a vessel that perfectly matches our requirements,” adds Mr Marçais. “Our role is to come alongside ships sailing at speeds of up to 12 knots. Our boats are used for port and coastal navigation in ‘all weathers’, including storm-force winds and swells of up to 2.5 - 3 meters. Mejean has already recorded 200 hours at sea. It reacts well and never gets caught out. This means we can always operate safely, even in heavy seas. The propulsion method makes it very responsive and allows us to manoeuvre confidently. It has also been specifically designed to make the vessel more balanced. The size-to-weight ratio is good and because weight distribution has been carefully optimised, the launch behaves well in head seas and is able to operate with an even keel. This is one of its big strengths. It's perfectly adapted to the meteorological conditions we encounter.”

Built with the commitment and expertise of the iXblue teams, the latest pilot boat delivered to the Port of Toulon is part of the growing number of vessels supplied to this market by iXblue shipyard, both in France and the country's overseas territories. It illustrates the success of iXblue's strategy: focusing on a high degree of customer satisfaction to ensure repeat orders.