Propulsion: Twin diesel inboard straight shafts, water jets, or pods
The Metal Shark 55 Defiant Pilot is modern, next-generation monohull vessel designed specifically for pilot operations. The vessel represents the latest evolution in Metal Shark’s growing pilot boat lineup, combining a proven hull form with a modern, crew-friendly, pilot-specific arrangement designed to deliver class-leading comfort, safety, efficiency, and performance. In November, 2021, Metal Shark announced the delivery of a 55 Defiant Pilot to Pascagoula Bar Pilots Association. Read the full story here, which outlines many of the operator-specific details of this custom build.
The 55 Defiant Pilot features a proven Metal Shark hull design that has been engineered and built to precise tolerances. To achieve its superior hull life rating, the vessel’s hull, deck, and superstructure are composed entirely of heavy, welded plates of premium 5086 aluminum-magnesium alloy. The Defiant-class running surface has been designed for maximum efficiency and performance. This efficiency, combined with the vessel’s durable construction, results in the lowest possible operating cost while at the same time assuring maximum performance. Thanks to its wide beam, pronounced reverse chines, and ample heft, the 55 Defiant is exceptionally stable while underway, at rest, and most importantly, during pilot transfer maneuvers. To meet specific performance requirements, the 55 Defiant may be equipped with inboards, water jets, or pod propulsion systems.
The 55 Defiant Pilot has been designed to offer maximum functionality and crew comfort. Fully flush non-skid decks run from bow to stern, eliminating tripping hazards and enabling fast transit around the boat. Strategically placed grab rails provide continuous handholds for transiting around the cabin or riding/working on the forward and aft decks. Large quick-acting hatches provide easy access to the bilges and storage spaces. Pilots exit the cabin through the centerline aft door and walk around the cabin to the foredeck, always with easy access to handrails. Oversized port and starboard side walkways provide easy access forward and aft. Boarding platforms are built to suit and are designed to accommodate the full range of operator needs. The vessel shown here has been configured to meet the requirements of the Pascagoula Bar Pilots Association and has been equipped with a foredeck transfer zone with integrated stairways allowing access from port, starboard, or forward, with two deployable platforms with integrated safety rails allowing pilots to board ships from either side of the vessel.
The 55 Defiant Pilot features an innovative pilothouse designed to deliver best-in-class visibility. The use of Metal Shark’s signature “pillarless glass” with reverse-raked windshield significantly reduces blind spots compared to the industry’s legacy pilot boat designs, which generally feature smaller, framed windows. An innovative two-tiered side window arrangement, with a second row of windows below the belt line, provides unmatched downward-angle visibility from the helm during alongside maneuvers or man-overboard retrieval. A panoramic skylight array provides an unobstructed upwards view while operating alongside ships during pilot transfer.
As built for Pascagoula Pilots, the 55 Defiant’s spacious climate-controlled cabin is equipped with four Dometic HVAC units and offers seating for seven, accommodating a single operator forward plus six pilot passengers. For comfort and convenience, each swivel seating position is equipped with a footrest, adjustable armrests, white/red LED lighting, a drink holder, and two 12-volt USB outlets.A full electronics suite includes Furuno TZtouch2 multifunction black box system with integrated GPS, radar, depth sounder, and a FLIR M-series 364C premium thermal imaging system for nighttime operations. Five closed-circuit cameras allow the vessel’s operator to monitor the engine room and aft deck from multiple angles at a glance while still maintaining watch. All of these features are displayed on three 19” Nauticomp GB Elite Series multi-touch displays.
The 55 Defiant hull has been specifically balanced to steer a straight course and turn predictably and safely without hooking a chine or exhibiting other unnatural turning behaviors. This design inherently increases the ability of the crew to operate safely during piloting maneuvers. Well-developed running strakes and a warped bottom plate ensure the craft carries the bow well and prevents unnecessary pounding and spray. At all speeds the craft maintains a steady inboard heel and will come back smartly back to level when returned to a steady course. While the 55 Defiant Pilot is specifically designed for rough water operation and crew safety, the vessel is very capable of shallow water operations and stable at low speeds.
Metal Shark’s large in-house team of naval architects works directly with pilot associations to tailor each Metal Shark pilot boat to meet the challenges and demands of its intended operating environment. Whether the job calls for straight-shaft inboards, water jets, or pods, Metal Shark can deliver an efficient and reliable solution. We work with virtually all major marine industry OEMs and offer many equipment choices. Our pilot boats are available with a wide range of fendering solutions. Boarding platforms are configured per customer spec, and all railings are pilot specific. Crew accommodations such as galleys, heads, and dinettes are all built to suit. Pilot boats may be equipped with the full range of available fire fighting systems, CBRNE crew protection systems, or other integrated technology for fire rescue response, port security, or other multi-purpose use. On top of all this, Metal Shark offers pilots some of the industry’s most comfortable, efficient, and crew friendly features. We invite you to contact Metal Shark today to begin the process of designing a Metal Shark pilot boat for your team.