Marine team proud of new Pilot Launch
For LPC’s Launch Master, Bryan Shankland, waiting for the arrival of the new Pilot Launch was like waiting for Christmas morning – and it was worth the wait.
“We’re very proud of our new Pilot Launch. She’s the Rolls-Royce of Pilot Launches – there’s nothing quite like her in New Zealand,” says Bryan, who has over 50 years’ experience at sea.
A Pilot Launch is a purpose-built boat used to transfer Marine Pilots to and from ships that are arriving or departing Port. The Launch pulls up alongside a ship at the harbour entrance and provides a moving yet stable platform for a Marine Pilot to climb a ladder to board a ship.
Bryan was part of the project team that defined what LPC needed in a Pilot Launch in order to prepare for the bigger ships that will visit, and the features the Marine team required – future-proofing the Port safely and efficiently.
“We visited several Ports across New Zealand and Australia to see a range of Pilot Launches. This helped define exactly what we required for Lyttelton Port and, after a rigorous selection process, we purchased a Pilot Launch designed by the French Naval architects Pantocarene. It was constructed by Hart Marine in Mornington, Australia who specialise in these vessels. We’re very happy with the end result.”
The Pilot Launch, named ‘Awaroa’, motored across the Tasman in January. ‘Awaroa’ is the name Māori gave the entrance to Lyttelton Harbour, known as ‘Godley Head’ to Europeans.
“She hums along the water brilliantly. Her fender and hull are so cleverly designed, that it is much easier to come alongside and pull away from a ship after a Pilot transfer is complete. She has the latest navigational technology and the best safety equipment. Overall she’s a much better and cleaner piece of kit in every aspect. If in an extremely unlikely situation where the Launch capsizes, ‘Awaroa’ has self-righting capabilities.”
At 16 metres long, the ‘Awaroa’ has all the comfort, space and low sound levels you’d expect of a new state of the art Pilot Launch.
”It makes our jobs so much more of a pleasure to do. There’s even a stereo system and toilet on board.”
Bryan started his career of handling vessels at age 17 by joining the Royal New Zealand Navy, an involvement he is proud of to this day.
“I joined in 1965 and was full time for 20 years. I started as a Junior Seaman and finished my service as a Commander. I was on active service during the Indonesian Confrontation and was on the last Royal New Zealand vessel to fire shots in anger.
“When it came time to settle down, I took up the position of Manager and Skipper for the Diamond Harbour Ferry. I was there for ten years before starting at the Port Company in 1996 as Launch Master – a role I’ve held for 20 years.
“It doesn’t get boring – not at all. Everyday when you come to work it’s different. Different vessels require a different approach; different weather conditions, different swells, different crew – every day and every job is different. It keeps you thinking.”
The Launch crew, made up of six experienced Launch Masters, work around the clock to support the Port’s 24 hour, seven day a week operation.
“We’re a tight crew – we’re all seafarers so we have that in common. The shift work is a lifestyle – and I just love being out on the water.”