Port of London Authority awards pilot vessel contract to family-owned British boat builder


Following a competitive, international selection process, the Port of London Authority (PLA) has signed a contract with British family-run company, Goodchild Marine Services Ltd, to build a new pilot vessel.

With 95 miles of the tidal Thames under its jurisdiction, the PLA, the UK’s largest port, is investing significantly in its people, infrastructure and equipment to meet increasing demand for its pilotage services as its customers and terminals continue to grow.

This winning tender follows Goodchild Marine’s success during London International Shipping Week, where it was honoured twice at the 2023 National Maritime SME Awards, collecting the awards for “Best Family Business” and overall winner of the “National Maritime SME Business of the Year”.

PLA’s Director of Marine Operations, Steven Clapperton, said:

“Goodchild has proven over many years that they are at the leading edge of vessel design and build. This new vessel is designed specifically for our current and future operational needs, and will incorporate the latest in technology, reducing fuel consumption, minimising environmental impacts, whilst maximising operability.

“Having previously built pilot vessels for both the PLA and its subsidiary company, Estuary Services Limited, utilising a proven, modern, energy-efficient hull form, Goodchild Marine will customise the new PLA vessel to include additional accommodation and extra seating, maximising passenger capacity to support the PLA’s extensive pilot training programme, to sustain the continued and forecast growth in the port.”

Goodchild’s General Manager, Stephen Pierce, said:

“As a family run company, it is a privilege to continue our working relationship with the Port of London Authority. This contract affords us the opportunity to continue to develop our range of pilot boats to meet the operational requirements of UK ports both small and large.”

This vessel acquisition represents a small part of the largest capital investment plan for the PLA in over 20 years. Supporting our customers’ future growth plans, this investment plan is key to delivering the PLA’s Thames Vision; to be the UK’s leading Net Zero port by 2040.

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