55 Defiant Pilot

Typical Specifications

LOA: 55’
Propulsion: Twin diesel inboard straight shafts, water jets, or pods

For detailed specifications, contact us today.

The Metal Shark 55 Defiant Pilot is modern, next-generation monohull vessel designed specifically for pilot operations. Like all vessels in Metal Shark’s pilot boat portfolio, the vessel utilizes an extensively proven hull form, and it may be customized to meet the specific requirements of its operator. The distinctive and chiseled craft  incorporates the “faceted hull” design initially developed by Metal Shark for the US Navy, and features the latest evolution of Metal Shark’s signature “pillarless glass” in a two-tiered, reverse-raked arrangement for unsurpassed visibility. The 55 Defiant Pilot offers enhanced seakeeping, extended range, and large crew capacity, all in a comfortable layout designed to enhance safety and efficiency while reducing fatigue.

In April 2020, Metal Shark announced a 55 Defiant Pilot being built for Pascagoula Bar Pilots Association. Read the full story here, which outlines many of the operator-specific details of this custom build.

Hull Design & Construction

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.

Deck Layout

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.


Metal Shark initially implemented automotive-style frameless glass into its pilothouse designs to eliminate the dangerous blind spots common on legacy pilothouse vessels fitted with smaller, framed windows. Metal Shark has enhanced this technology for its pilot customers by employing reverse-angled glass to reduce solar exposure and the ensuing heat load. As a further evolution of this concept, the new 55 Defiant’s pilothouse features a second tier of glass, drastically improving downwards-angle visibility during man overboard retrieval, or while operating alongside another vessel. Meanwhile, large overhead spotter windows provide upwards visibility during pilot transfer maneuvers. The net result is near-elimination of blind spots from within the pilothouse. Pilots enjoy a nearly-unobstructed 360-degree view from a Metal Shark pilothouse which greatly enhances safety, especially while on night missions or operating during other periods of reduced visibility. Metal Shark’s extensive use of shock and vibration mitigation technology reduces crew fatigue, further enhancing comfort and safety.

Outstanding Performance

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. The parent craft Defiant series boats have been extensively tested by both the US Coast Guard and US Navy to meet military maneuvering requirements, including ABYC line, Quick Turn and backing trials. (Metal Shark 64 Defiant Pilot shown here.)

Custom Capability

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 (45 Defiant Pilot shown here). We invite you to contact Metal Shark today to begin the process of designing a Metal Shark pilot boat for your team.