Gardenstown midwater trawler makes her mark fishing mackerel

Skippers Matthew and Alexander West and the crew of Resolute BF 50 have quickly started to showcase the fishing capabilities of their new vessel, reports David Linkie

On arrival at Fraserburgh from Spain in mid-November, the 69.8m LOA Resolute took her midwater trawl gear aboard in just 24 hours and crossed the North Sea to run fishing trials from Norway, before immediately starting to fish mackerel some 50 miles east of Shetland.

Although the Scottish pelagic fleet had already been tied up for nearly a month having caught its annual allocation, a good spread of marks enabled Resolute to hit the ground running and make four successful back-to-back trips under calendar pressure.

Four days into the new year, Resolute sailed from Fraserburgh to start fishing mackerel in deeper water to the west of Shetland in the vicinity of Sule Skerry, as the fish followed their well-established migratory route into the southwest. Resolute was again reported to have performed well while encountering some typically heavy January weather in the North Atlantic, including 50-knot northwesterly winds two weeks ago.

That Resolute was able to take her 2021 mackerel quota despite having been built in Spain amidst a global pandemic – which led to major issues and inevitably pushed the completion date back considerably – is testament to the effort everyone involved in the international build programme put in to achieve a successful outcome.

This is especially true of the skippers and crew, who were more than 1,000 miles from home for a long period of time, but showed the determination needed to ensure that Resolute now has a run of landings to her name.

Resolute was designed by the Wärtsilä Technology Group and built at the Astilleros Balenciaga shipyard at Zumaia, Spain, for Castlehill LLP.

Resolute replaces the owners’ previous 17-year-old vessel of the same name, which was bought by the Wiseman Fishing Company and renamed Artemis BF 60 a year ago.

Maximal levels of crew safety and comfort, catch quality and working efficiency were identified as the main priorities at the start of the three-year design and build project to replace their well-proven previous vessel.

While very much a new generation of vessel incorporating the latest technology, Resolute is designed to replicate the fishing capabilities of the owners’ previous vessel, and to fish the same annual allocations of herring and mackerel.

That Resolute features a similar Wärtsilä 9L32 main engine to her predecessor and Karmøy deck machinery illustrate the owners’ confidence in well-proven machinery. Modern ideas include pumping fish over the stern – a first for the skippers and crew – and a full-length boat deck.

Alongside her new design, Resolute also features a new generation of wheelhouse team, with cousins Matthew and Alexander now fully taking over from their fathers David and George West at the end of a gradual and well-managed transition period.

Shortly before sailing from Fraserburgh earlier this month, skippers Matthew and Alexander West said: “The time was right to upgrade to a new vessel, which will enable us to follow our well-established seasonal fishing patterns with enhanced efficiency and safety. The biggest single difference is pumping fish at the stern – a change we are steadily getting accustomed to, and one that is already bringing benefits.

“While the Covid-19 virus clearly created major issues and time delays, we got there in time to fish mackerel at the end of last year. Initial indications are that Resolute is a fine sea boat, and one that will stand us in good stead in years to come.”

Insured by Sunderland Marine, working through Westward Fishing Company Ltd, Fraserburgh and sailing with a crew of 12, Resolute will fish mackerel in the North Sea towards the end of the year and in the North Atlantic in January/February, together with North Sea herring in August.

Working in close liaison with the owners, the Wärtsilä Technology Group provided a complete vessel design package, as well as supplying the centreline propulsion package, which gave Resolute an average top speed of 16 knots on engine trials in the Bay of Biscay.

While Resolute is the first midwater trawler of this design to be built by Astilleros Balenciaga SA, the yard has built a series of pelagic vessels, including the Dutch-owned pair-trawlers Wiron 1 and 2, and the Spanish-style purse-seiners Playa Del Ris and Feline Ruano, as well as a long list of Grampian-class supply boats, during its 97-year history.

High-tech electronic equipment from three local companies

Three specialist companies in North East Scotland, Furuno UK, Scanmar UK and Woodsons, supplied the customary array of navigation, fish-finding and net-monitoring equipment that skippers Matty and Ally West are now using to good effect in Resolute’s wheelhouse.

Information from the state of the art electronic equipment, which is installed in a separate instrument room directly below the wheelhouse, is displayed through a Furuno big bridge system encompassing four 55in 4K Hatteland floor-mounted tilting screens and 16 26in Hatteland fixed screens in different configurations depending on the vessel’s mode of operation. The system is driven by an advanced video wall controller that takes in all the images from the equipment, integrated into a touch-screen command and control system. The skippers can select steaming, searching, fishing and harbour modes, and the bridge will automatically reconfigure to the required layout.

When searching for fish, the 55in displays can be put to their full advantage, displaying full-screen high-resolution (4K) sonar images. This layout can be changed with one touch to show split-screen CCTV with radar chart overlay and conning information, for steaming or entering harbour.

Three 24in touch-screen command centres are located on the port and starboard consoles, and aft at the winch controls. From here, the skippers can use a single trackball or touch screen to control all the navigation and fishing equipment on the vessel. The touch screen has soft-touch controllers that copy the radar, ECDIS and sonar keyboards, allowing them to be mounted out of sight to keep the bridge clean and uncluttered.

The Furuno big bridge system is located in front of two NorSap 1600S skipper’s chairs, positioned between wing and island consoles, which together form the main navigation position.

Freestanding wing consoles, for use when Resolute is being manoeuvred in confined areas, are located at the forward corners of the wheelhouse. The overhead screen display above the wing consoles can also be configured to the skipper’s individual preferences.

The central fishing console aft provides a commanding view of midwater trawling activities across the stern, while radar, sonar, trawl monitoring and chart information can be viewed and controlled on the upper four 26in Hatteland displays.

For long-range fish detection, Resolute is equipped with the latest-model low-frequency omni-sonar from Furuno. The FSV-25 has a narrow vertical beam, allowing echo detection at very long range, and also using a unique dual-range function where one sonar can effectively become two with independent control of range, tilt and gain on each screen.

For medium- and close-range echo detection, skippers Matty and Ally West use Furuno FSV-85 medium-frequency 94kHz and Furuno FSV-75 high-frequency (164kHz) omni sonars, providing excellent clarity on smaller marks coming off the bottom.

Vertical echo detection is performed by Simrad ES80 split-beam, Furuno FSS-1BB fish-species discrimination and Furuno FCV-2100 fish-sizing sounders. Sweeping through a broad range of frequencies, the latter two units calculate the breakdown of species types in any given shoal, and provide graphical information to the skipper to help ensure that only the target species actually ends up in the net.

Resolute is also equipped with a WASSP F3XLi multi-beam sounder.

The performance of Resolute’s midwater trawls when towing is monitored by a Simrad ES70 trawl sonar operating through the cable winch atop the gantry.

The high specification of electronic equipment fitted is further highlighted by the presence of a Furuno FMD-3200 BB electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS), supplied by Furuno UK of Fraserburgh. Providing fast, intuitive course planning and navigation monitoring, the ECDIS unit – for which Thomas Gunn of Poseidon Navigation Services, Buckie, will provide updated electronic charts every month – is supported by two type-approved Furuno chart radars – FAR 3238S-NXT S-Band and FAR 2228-BB X-band. A third Furuno radar is interfaced to the TimeZero plotters.

Navigation equipment includes two TimeZero Professional plotters integrated to radars, sounders, WASSP, GPS and AIS, and an Olex 3D seabed mapping plotter.

GPS and heading data is provided by two Furuno GP170 type-approved GPS receivers, Furuno SC-70 satellite compasses, a Simrad GC80 expanded gyro system, and a Simrad AP70 Mk II autopilot system.

AIS information is handled by the latest-model Furuno FA-170.

A Furuno CI-68 BB current indicator provides tidal data at five different depths, passing this information to the long-range sonars.

A Furuno BR-500 watch alarm system gives peace of mind to the skipper and crew when Resolute is steaming to and from the fishing grounds.

The vessel’s extensive communications system includes a full Sailor GMDSS package. Jotron EPIRBs and SARTs are also fitted.


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