News & Projects

Pilot Boats Running Well with Volvo Penta Engines

Photo of Susquehanna Pilot boat with waves

The Association of Maryland Pilots have been enjoying the superior performance of Volvo Penta engines installed in two pilot boats built by Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding in Somerset, Massachusetts. The project team members consisted of JD Messler, Marine Territory Sales Manager, Johnson & Towers, a member of Indel Power Group; Noah Seiple, Maryland Pilots Marine Superintendent, and Gladding-Hearn staff.

During the planning process, Seiple decided on the Volvo Penta engines for both vessels — the Susquehanna, delivered in December 2020 and powered by two D16 650-horsepower engines, and the Fells Point, delivered in April 2021 with two D13 600-horsepower engines.

“The Maryland pilots love their new boats and the Volvo Penta engines in them. With longer service intervals they are spending more time on the water and less at the dock,” says Messler. “There’s plenty of power, both the D13 and D16 have best-in-class torque rise and fuel efficiency. Furthermore, both the pilots and crews appreciate the reduced noise level throughout the RPM range.”

The Association of Maryland Pilots has 68 pilots on staff who run missions 365 days a year in all weather conditions, from Baltimore to Virginia Beach, Virginia. The pilot boats log about 2,000 hours per year.

“Currently, the Fells Point has 400 hours on its engine and the Susquehanna has about 1,300 hours. We looked at other engines in the 600-horsepower range and Volvo Penta has the strongest platform and biggest displacement for the engine duty cycle,” says Seiple. “We have easy access to parts in Virginia Beach and Baltimore and service is very reliable.”

During the planning process, Seiple spoke with other pilot organizations who have Volvo Penta engines and heard about improved performance, less vibration, quick throttle response, and fuel efficiency. The Fells Point engines are cruising 10 knots faster with two times as much horsepower, burning 9 to 9.1 gallons per hour. In the Susquehanna, the engines are able to run 1.5 knots faster.

“Johnson & Towers has been great to work with, they keep a stock of all consumable items. We get a quick response from techs, which minimizes downtime. They’ve been very supportive and the engines are running well,” says Seiple.

To learn more about powering your boating through Johnson & Towers, contact our Marine Sales team.