UK’s First Hybrid Pilot Vessel for Port of London Authority Features TR31

Business Segment:

Commercial Marine


London, UK

Project Description:

The Port of London Authority (PLA) recently launched the UK’s first plug-in diesel hybrid pilot boat, Leader, built by the team at Goodchild Marine in Norfolk.

The vessel was designed to improve environmental performance and encourage greener technology as part of the PLA’s commitment to the Air Quality Strategy for the Tidal Thames.

Significantly reducing the use of 1982 built vessel, Patrol, Leader uses around 40% less diesel per nautical mile helping to cut carbon dioxide emissions.

Fuel consumption is also reduced due to the lightweight, minimal drag, ORC-inspired hull design developed by French naval architects Pantocarene and adapted by Goodchild Marine.

Each charge of the boat’s batteries provides enough power for 20 nautical miles at speeds up to 15 knots. The diesel engines boost the speed up to 19 knots, charge the batteries and provide propulsion. 

During the build phase, this unique vessel required the installation of a safety system to protect crew members during pilot transfer, inspection, maintenance and general movement around the boat.

Solution/Equipment Used:

Collaborating with Goodchild Marine to facilitate part of the project, the Harken Industrial TR31 Tight Radius rail and trolley system was installed.

This device acts as a moveable anchorage point, allowing crew to safely attach to a trolley and move freely around the boat without the risk of falling into the water.

Rails are made of high-strength marine grade aluminum and comply with two Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) requirements. Trolleys are tested to 1200 kg (2645 lb).

Straight rails can be bent to accommodate directional changes up to a 350 mm radius (13.8”) without impacting the trolley’s ability to run smoothly past very tight radii and joints.

The TR31 system on Leader was placed around the wheelhouse of the vessel and a separate rail was installed at the bow of the boat.


Having the correct safety system in place on any pilot vessel is very important to improve safety when working on-deck to prevent crew falling overboard.

Such systems require careful consideration and design to achieve the optimal solution for both safety and operation.

The design and installation of the TR31 provided PLA with a high quality, versatile system that helped the person tethered to move around the boat with confidence when at sea.

Client Testimonial:

“The Port of London Authority has Harken Industrial’s safety equipment fitted on many of our boats and craft and have never encountered any problems. We have found them to be very professional and their products are high quality.”

“In the case of our new pilot launch Leader- the safety rails were professionally custom bent to match the profile of the boat. This means the finished rail has fewer joins for a smoother system for the carriages to run on and this is a positive aspect which improves the use for crew and pilots when they attach.”

Daniel Harwood, Marine Engineering Superintendent, Port of London Authority

Photos of the hybrid vessel on the water and the installed TR31 rail system can be seen in the photo gallery section below.

Additional Information:

Goodchild Marine partnered with EP Barrus for the Yanmar engines and Marine and Industrial Transmissions Ltd. (MIT) for the Transfluid system to deliver the plug-in diesel hybrid pilot boat. Patrol, the existing vessel, is powered by twin Scania diesel engines.

Leader was showcased at Seawork International 2019 in Southampton.