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Home News The new SW Alaska Pilot Boat was built to handle the difficult...

The new SW Alaska Pilot Boat was built to handle the difficult waterways of the state


1ab Emerald Island Digital Copy 840px

Photo of Janet Pierce

Southwest Alaska Pilots Association (SWAPA)

HOMER, Alaska, February 13, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – The Southwest Alaska Pilots Association (SWAPA), a state-licensed pilot tasked with safely and efficiently delivering ships and their valuable cargo to the ports and waterways of the South Central Alaska took possession of their newest pilot boat "Emerald Island".

The "Emerald Island" was built by Somerset, the mass-based Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding, and arrived on December 22 with a ship in Victoria, BC, where he was subjected to recent sea trials before sailing to Valdez, AK. It is 75 feet long and 21 feet wide, powered by two 1,400-horsepower water jets, and can produce 29 knots to bring pilots to their timely ship missions off the coasts of Alaska.

"It will provide our pilots with the stable and secure platform they need to cope with the dynamic and unpredictable weather conditions we encounter around the clock, seven days a week," said Capt. Ron Ward II, SWAPA pilot.

The aluminum boat features a deep V hull designed by Ray Hunt by Gladding-Hearn. It is powered by two Cummins QSK38-M1, EPA Tier 3 diesel engines, each capable of 1,800 rpm. The wheelhouse has direct glaze-heated windows, heated handrails and heated decks that allow pilots to safely climb and disembark under the extreme and often cold conditions of Alaska.

It features shock-absorbing seats so pilots and crew can travel safely under the harsh sea conditions that characterize their busy waterways. SWAPA pilots may spend many hours on their waterway during their work.

To accommodate the pilots and crew, the foredeck of the ship includes two cabins, a head and a shower, a dressing area and hanging lockers. The interior insulation keeps the interior noise at full engine power below 74 decibels.

"Everything about this new boat meets the demands of our working environment as an Alaska pilot," said Ward. "Emerald Island will be based in Valdez, AK, and will primarily transport tankers carrying crude oil from the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Terminal (TAPS). Our customers expect their ships to pass through without delay, and we are grateful for the cooperation that was essential to the success of this ship project. This "all-weather" pilot will enable us to safely satisfy our customers' requirements and strive to sustain Alaska's economy. "

About SWAPA:
The Southwest Alaska Pilots Association (SWAPA) has been providing pilots on the ports and waterways of South-Central Alaska since 1975. Currently, 18 pilots work closely with federal, state, industry and environmental organizations to fulfill their mission to the citizens of Alaska to ensure safe navigation of ships and the protection of life, property and the marine environment in the waters of Icy Bay , Prince William Sound, Resurrection Bay, Kenai Fjords, Cook Inlet, and the Kodiak Island Archipelago.

The SWAPA office and Pilot Dispatch Center are located in Homer, Alaska. Please visit this website for more information:,

For more informations:
Henry de La Garza, The Pilots PIO
(713) 622-8818

A photo of this announcement is available at



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