Falmouth Pilot Boat to carry hero’s name back to land of his birth

Falmouth’s 46-year-old pilot boat LK Mitchell will leave the Harbour for a new working role on the West coast of Scotland in September this year – a fitting next stage for a vessel which has provided an incredible service for the Cornish port for so long.
When she leaves for Scotland and a somewhat gentler commercial role with new owners Class 1 Maritime, she will be carrying the name of renowned Falmouth Pilot Captain Laurence Kerr Mitchell home on the anniversary of his tragic death in service 50 years ago.
Captain “Laurie” Mitchell, a proud Scotsman from a sea-faring family, lost his life in September 1974 whilst attempting to board the P&O ferry Eagle when she was in distress and requesting help in heavy weather three miles off the Cornish port.
Capt Mitchell’s death was instrumental in bringing changes in Maritime Law governing the safety of pilots boarding ships. When a new Trinity House 17.5m Nelson 56 vessel joined the Pilot Services fleet at Falmouth in 1978, it was his widow Maureen who officiated in naming her “LK Mitchell” in his honour.
Soon, after 46 years’ faithful service in the busy Trust Port, LK Mitchell will “retire” from the 24/7 operations of the Falmouth Harbour Pilotage fleet in the UK’s Western Approaches and travel to Campbeltown in Scotland, where she was built, to provide Pilot services for her new working home with Class 1 Maritime.
“We are very happy to be able to extend LK Mitchell’s operational life in the role that she was specially built for, albeit in a much less busy port,” says Captain Robert Keir of Class 1 Maritime. “We provide Pilotage and work boat services mainly in remote areas in the west of Scotland and LK Mitchell will support these services in Campbeltown.
“We are delighted to have agreed the purchase of LK Mitchell from Falmouth Harbour Commissioners and we’re very happy to have such a well-maintained vessel join our company – a well-deserved semi-retirement role for such a hard-working iconic vessel.”
Falmouth Harbour CEO Miles Carden says, “This is just the outcome we hoped for the LK Mitchell in her later years and it seems poetic that she is carrying Captain Laurie Mitchell’s name back home to Scotland.
“Our Falmouth Pilot vessels and their crews have a tough working life operating in all conditions 24/7, 365 days a year and completing more than 1,000 boardings and landings per year. Our greatest hope as we looked to replace LK Mitchell was to redeploy her in a second, less demanding commercial role and we are so pleased that this will come to pass in her new working home.”
The new £1.6M vessel designed and built by Holyhead Marine will replace the 46 year old LK Mitchell and join Arrow to provide Falmouth Harbour’s pilot services 24/7, 365 days a year.

Taking LK Mitchell’s place in Falmouth Harbour’s Pilot fleet will be a £1.6M state-of-the-art vessel, currently under construction by Holyhead Marine in North Wales which, when commissioned in the summer, will be one of the cleanest, safest and most fuel-efficient pilot boats in the UK.

As one of the few Tier 3 compliant pilot vessels operating in the UK it will include features which help Falmouth Harbour meet its sustainability targets and provide an asset for the next 20-30 years.
Falmouth Pilot Services (FPS) are a service arm of Falmouth Harbour operating the Falmouth Pilotage Area which spans from Black Head to the Dodman including Falmouth Bay, the Helford and Percuil rivers, the Carrick Roads and the River Fal.

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