Belfast Harbour welcome new Pilot Boat to its Marine Fleet 

Belfast Harbour has this week taken delivery of its newest vessel, the Pilot Boat Hibernia, which represents a £1.5m investment in its marine fleet 


Hibernia will be tasked with transporting pilots to and from ships calling at Belfast as part of the service provided by Belfast Harbour which helps ships safely navigate through the port, to and from their designated berth.  


Belfast Harbour handles more than 23.9 million tonnes of trade every year and its pilot boat fleet needs to operate 24 hours a day 365 days a year, therefore it is vital to ensure downtime is kept to a minimum.  


The new vessel, built by Holyhead Marine Services, will replace PB4; the oldest pilot boat in Belfast Harbour’s fleet, which is being retired after 24 years of service. 


With a lightweight, resin infused hull and refined shape, the new Hibernia has a fuel-efficient hull design and engines that are able to run on Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) helping to reduce carbon emissions from pilot boat operations. It is also believed that it will be the first pilot vessel on the island of Ireland equipped with a selective catalytic reduction exhaust system, which reduces nitrous oxide emissions.  


The name Hibernia has a strong history and connection with Belfast Harbour. William Ritchie started shipbuilding in the city in 1791, on the site of the future Harbour Office. Within a year, the 300 tonne Hibernia was launched, which began trading between Belfast, New York and the Caribbean. Over 230 years later Belfast Harbour is proud to bring the new Pilot Boat Hibernia into service at the Port 


Dr Theresa Donaldson, Chair of Belfast Harbour, has been named as the godmother of Pilot Boat Hibernia at a traditional naming ceremony designed to bring luck to the vessel and keep the crew safe. 


Michael Robinson, Port Director at Belfast Harbour, said: “We are delighted to welcome Hibernia to our fleet of pilot boats at Belfast Harbour. We wanted to purchase a vessel that would advance and improve the resilience of this mission critical service. Our crew and engineers worked closely with the boat builder, Holyhead Marine Ltd, from the outset, as the project progressed from design through to delivery.”  


We’re committed to becoming a green port and sustainability is a core element of everything that we do. We were able to incorporate environmental improvements into the design of Hibernia which will help us on this decarbonisation journey.”