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New PLA Harbour Launches


  • The Port of London Authority (PLA) is investing £2 million in a fleet of four new, specially designed harbour patrol launches. 
  • The Authority patrols the river to help river users with navigational safety.
  • Extensive tests were conducted on the first in class, Lambeth, and improvements to the design implemented on the three sister vessels.
  • The second vessel, Southwark, has now been delivered and the remaining two launches will be delivered through the spring and summer of 2011.

Why the new boats are being commissioned

The four new launches will produce benefits including:

  • substantially reduced fuel consumption and exhaust emissions
  • reduced wash wave generation
  • easier operation – the boats have been specifically designed for the roles they perform
  • much easier maintenance – one set of parts will do for all the boats
  • improved reliability and availability, using innovative engineering to design out known sources of equipment failure


Computer modelling


Testing the design

Building in progress

Construction work in progress

Building continues

The hull takes shape


Trials on the Thames


Trials continue


Side view


Cockpit view




Interior detail

What the launches do

The Harbour Patrol Service provides the Harbour Masters’ eyes and ears on the river. 

Their duties include:

  • patrolling – keeping an eye on things; they have powers to detain a vessel if they are unhappy with the way it is being navigated
  • supervising large vessels that come further up river – bulk sugar ships to Silvertown; cruise ships to HMS Belfast
  • enforcing river closures for work on bridges, sporting events, plus fireworks (New Year’s Eve)

Lambeth and her sister patrol boats will be used in the middle and lower districts of the tidal Thames, between Putney Bridge and the North Sea.

About the design

The design of the new launches is the product of five years of careful research and development, aimed at equipping the harbour and pilotage services with the most modern and efficient vessels for the job. Similar, award winning twin-hulled vessels were successfully introduced for the PLA’s patrolling duties up river of Putney.

The new launches will replace seven relatively heavy, well used boats, each different from the other (hull, engine and electrics).

Watch the Film


Basic details

  • Name: Lambeth
  • Builder: Alnmaritec, based in Alnwick, Northumberland
  • Hull type: Aluminium catamaran, with deep vee hull form, designed by Newcastle University.  Hull structure designed by Amgram Limited
  • Dimensions: 13.5m long, overall and 4.8m wide
  • Weight: 11 tonnes
  • Maximum speed:  21 knots (24 mph)
  • Patrol speed: 18 knots (20.5 mph)
  • Engines: Two John Deere 200 horsepower marine diesel engines - installed power of 400 HP