Two new Thames pilot launches have been officially named at a ceremony at Ramsgate.

The new vessels, Estuary Elan and Estuary Elite, cost £2 million and are used to transfer pilots to and from ships visiting terminals and jetties on the Thames, Medway and Ramsgate Harbour. 

Replacing vessels that had been in service since 1986, Elan and Elite are faster, more efficient, have improved all weather capability and offer greater pilot comfort, delivering them safely to do their job.

The company that operates them, Estuary Services Ltd, is a joint venture between the Port of London Authority and Port of Sheerness. ESL transfers pilots to more than 10,000 ships in the Thames’ southern approaches every year, including cruise ships, containers vessels, tankers and general cargo carriers. 

ESL operations manager, Andrew Thompson, said: “The Thames and Medway together form one of the largest port complexes in the UK, handling food, fuel and other of life’s essentials for people across London and the South East. 

"Our job is to make sure that we provide a reliable service getting the pilots to and from the ships. The new launches will help us do that.  They are more reliable, faster and use less fuel than our old boats.  And most importantly they get the pilots to and from the vessels in greater comfort.”

The new 17.5-metre launches, capable of 28 knots, were designed by French naval architect, Didier Marchand and built by Goodchild Marine in Great Yarmouth.

The naming ceremony (above right) was carried out by Lady Boyce, wife of former First Sea Lord and Admiral of the Cinque Ports, Lord Boyce and Julia Everitt, wife of the Chairman of Estuary Services Ltd, Richard Everitt.

Story dated October 31st 2013

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