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£2 Million Pilot Launches Named

Estuary Services Limited’s (ESL) two new pilot launches were officially named in Ramsgate today (Thursday, 31 October) 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.

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.

Estuary Elan and Elite ready for the naming ceremony in Ramsgate Harbour Reverend John Chater performing the prayers and blessing of the new launches Moment of impact: champagne sprays on the deck of Estuary Elan as Lady Boyce christens the vessel

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. The main pilot boarding station is 8 miles from Ramsgate which the launches vessels reach at a speed of 25 knots; their top speed is 28 knots.

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 that our old boats. And most importantly they get the pilots to and from the vessels in greater comfort.”

The new, 17.5-metre long pilot launches were designed by French naval architect, Didier Marchand and built by Goodchild Marine in Great Yarmouth.

ESL is a 50/50 joint venture between the Port of London Authority (PLA) and Port of Sheerness Limited.