Power onboard is a vital aspect of a successful fishing operation, and for newbuilds and repowering, boatowners need the right fit — along with reliability, serviceability, and regulatory compliance. A host of genset manufacturers are competing for various sectors of the commercial fishing vessel market, delivering gensets from 1.5 to hundreds of horsepower. Many manufacturers are using innovative engineering to combine various diesel engines with available generators. Other companies, such as Volvo-Penta, build all components of their gensets in-house, but all are pursuing increased efficiency through development of hybrid systems.

R.A. Mitchell Co. of New Bedford, Mass., has been building gensets since 1954. “Our brand is Ramco,”says Bob Mitchell, who took over the company from his father and now runs it with his daughter, Jen. “We have put gensets on over 500 fishing vessels,” he says, noting that the company is WBE and DBE certified (Women’s Business Enterprise and Disadvantage Business Enterprise), making it eligible to bid on federally assisted projects.

While R.A. Mitchell just introduced a 40-kW genset powered by a Tier III Yanmar 4TNV98, and makes a range of gensets up to 350-kW, the company’s most popular generator is its 150-kW unit.

“We mostly use John Deere, the 6068 AFM85, with a Marathon generator for that,” says Mitchell. “We’re one of the few OEM companies that package these John Deere and Yanmar commercial marine generator sets.”

Like most engines on the market, the John Deere is electronically controlled, and like many in the industry, Mitchell believes technological advances have made electronically controlled engines reliable. “As long as they’re handled correctly there’s no problem,” he says. “You shouldn’t disconnect the wiring once it’s been connected. That can send a harmonic down the wire and short circuit the system.”

According to Mitchell, reliability is also vital. “Any fishing boat that is 40, 50 or 200 miles offshore needs a genset that’s going to last 25,000 to 35,000 hours,” he says. “But the day it breaks the question is who is going to fix it and how fast? We had a guy in Connecticut whose 99-kW genset went down, and he needed a replacement. We had one on the floor ready to go and shipped it right out to him.”

Unique among genset manufacturers, Volvo-Penta makes its entire genset, the engine and the alternator. The company currently sells a D13 genset, and is in the process of bringing its D8 to the U.S. market.

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Paul Molyneaux is the Boats & Gear editor for National Fisherman.

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