Milford Haven pilot boats to feature Zelim’s rescue technology


The Port of Milford Haven, the biggest port in Wales and largest energy port in the UK, plans to move forward with an extensive trialling package of Zelim’s innovative Swift rescue conveyor on its operational pilot vessels. The port may also utilise this technology on their new, state-of-the-art Pilot Vessel, currently in the final stages of contract award.

The Port of Milford Haven operates in some of the highest sea states seen in ports globally, due to its geographical location and exposure to Atlantic swells. The Port’s new pilot vessel is touted to be the world’s most advanced to date and will be equipped to deploy in the heaviest conditions.

Zelim was initially contracted by the Port of Milford Haven in April 2023 to run a demonstration of its Swift conveyor technology on the River Forth to pilots and launch crews. The demonstration saw multiple man overboard recoveries successfully completed in under one minute from the point of first contact.

Jaime Furlong, Pilot at Milford Haven, said: “With the unique and demanding environmental conditions experienced in Milford Haven Port, pilot safety and exposure time in the water during man overboard occurrences are critical. The opportunity to see the Zelim Swift system at work, with its potential application for our operation, was excellent. The system enables timely extraction of a casualty from the water, allied with an easy deployment system. I look forward to trialling this on our current fleet and developing the system to operate in our challenging conditions.”

All pilots and crew attending the demonstration quickly learned how to operate the Swift and rescued casualties from the water themselves.
Wayne Busby, Watch Manager at Milford Haven, said: “The Swift system has the potential to become a market leader in man overboard recovery. As an operator, I have never seen or used a system that recovers casualties so quickly and with so little manual effort. I look forward to seeing the trials conducted at Milford Haven to ascertain its capability in heavy sea states.”

Zelim will work closely with the Port of Milford Haven to optimise the current design for their specific needs. The port aims to lead the field in pilot vessel operations and sees the technology as a critical step to setting a new benchmark in maritime safety.

John Warneford, Assistant Harbourmaster at Milford Haven, said: “Having seen the Swift system demonstrated at Seawork in 2022, I was immediately impressed with the ease of use and speed of recovery that the system achieved. The design and operation of the system also present advantages in reducing potential further injury to personnel being recovered, particularly when recovering in a swell.

“With the procurement of a new heavy weather pilot launch underway, it was an ideal opportunity to approach Zelim and investigate how this system could be incorporated into our operations to improve safety and capability for our crews and pilots.”

Ultimately, the tweaked design will be suitable for pilot vessels globally. The team at Zelim is keen to refine the Swift for this market with an end user that will put the technology through its paces.

Sam Mayall, CEO of Zelim, commented: “Confidence at Zelim is high after proving the Swift for the offshore wind market, where it performed twenty times faster than existing equipment in a recent demo. Pilot vessels present a new challenge as they provide a vital service in the very worst conditions.

“We are excited to be working with one of the leaders in pilot boat operations, providing them with next generation man overboard recovery equipment and potentially saving lives in a new market. The team at Milford Haven bring with them real life experience of day-to-day operations and emergency situations that are essential to developing a solution truly fit for purpose.”

Development and testing will take place over the coming months as the Port of Milford Haven looks to put the Swift through its paces in challenging conditions.