We’re proud of the relationship we have built with the Fort Ripley team – Volvo Penta, Superior Diesel, Hunt Design, and Gladding Hearn. We’ve overcome the challenges of being the first pilot boat in the U.S. to use triple IPS drives in a commercial application, and I can say it’s been a success,” says Prause.
Launched in 2014, the Pilots Association, located in South Carolina, had some unique requirements for their new boat, which would operate as an offshore response vessel, a supply boat for ships at anchor, and an additional launch. It would need enough power to operate a fire pump, while having the ability to control and drive the boat, especially in rough conditions.
The Fort Ripley has three, IPS 900, D13 700-horsepower engines. The Dynamic Positioning System (DPS) provides fully automatic hands-off precise station keeping under GPS control.
The ship’s triple-engine configuration provides the power needed, and allows the center engine to decouple from the drive to operate the 3,500-GPM fire pump. The two outboard drives easily maneuver the vessel and control and maintain position automatically using DPS. With more than 5,000 hours on the engines in the last two years, the boat is running well in a high-demand, 24/7 business. Prause has appreciated the enormous amount of resources and attentiveness that Volvo Penta has given to this project.
“Volvo Penta has listened and responded to our concerns, and made sure that their promises are fulfilled. Sometimes the response you get is more important than any problem,” says Prause. “By the end of the year, we will hit the 6,000-hour mark. We’re seeing less fuel burn. The efficiency of the engines gives us the range we need to fulfill the mission of the boat.”