VESSEL REVIEW | Island Guardian – Landing craft to support Great Barrier Reef preservation efforts

Best Security Landing Craft – Island Guardian (Photo: Norman R. Wright and Sons)
Best Security Landing Craft – Island Guardian (Photo: Norman R. Wright and Sons)

The Queensland Department of Environment and Science (DES), a preservation agency operating in the Australian state of Queensland, recently expanded its fleet of marine protection vessel with the acquisition of an aluminium catamaran landing craft built by compatriot shipbuilder Norman R. Wright and Sons (NRW).

Island Guardian will be operated by the Reef Joint Field Management Program, which is run by the DES and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. The new custom-designed vessel will perform a range of duties including patrol, dive support, marine infrastructure installation and maintenance, island protected area management, research, and incident response. It will also facilitate more efficient management of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

<em>Photo: Norman R. Wright and Sons</em>
Photo: Norman R. Wright and Sons

The landing craft has an LOA of 21.25 metres, a beam of 6.5 metres, a maximum draught of only 1.3 metres, a depth of 2.5 metres, and a displacement of 72 tonnes at full load. The vessel has been designed specifically to allow the transportation of equipment and vehicles to remote areas of the Great Barrier Reef with space available for up to 7.5 tonnes of deck cargo including four-wheel-drive vehicles, trailers, excavators, compact track loaders, and small payloaders.

Cargo loading is facilitated by a custom-designed bi-folding vehicle ramp on the bow. The vessel can safely land on a large range of gradients, including beaches and boat ramps. A deck crane has also been fitted with the ability to lift a payload of 680 kg at a 7.5 metre radius. The robust engineering of the bow ramp also allows the vessel to safely rescue and release marine life weighing up to 600 kg.

Power is provided by two MAN i6-850 engines that each produce 625 kW at 2,300 rpm and drive fixed-pitch propellers. The vessel has an economical cruising speed of 20 knots and a maximum speed of 25 knots. The hull has been designed to incorporate the bow ramp without limiting the ability to combat rough seas from south-east trade winds. Propeller tunnels facilitate the use of efficient propulsion whilst maintaining the low draught necessary for beach landings.

<em>Photo: Norman R. Wright and Sons</em>
Photo: Norman R. Wright and Sons

The vessel can transport up to 24 personnel in addition to cargo. The main deck has a galley, a crew lounge, a crew mess, and a bathroom. Twin crew berths are located on the main deck. Additional seating for service personnel is located on the working deck via folding seats. Multiple deck lockers are also available.

The wheelhouse features a full walkaround and has been designed to ensure excellent visibility of the working deck and bow ramp from both its central helm position and exterior wing stations. The wheelhouse features a single master's berth as well as ample storage space and crew seating. On the exterior of the wheelhouse deck are the rescue boat, additional freezer space, a laundry area, and a bathroom.

Island Guardian was built in compliance to USL/NSCV 2C and 1C rules.

<em>Photo: Norman R. Wright and Sons</em>
Photo: Norman R. Wright and Sons
Island Guardian
Type of vessel:Landing craft
Classification:USL/NSCV 2C and 1C
Owner:Queensland Department of Environment and Science, Australia
Operator:Reef Joint Field Management Program, Australia
Builder:Norman R. Wright and Sons, Australia
Hull construction material:Aluminium
Superstructure construction material:Aluminium
Deck construction material:Aluminium
Length overall:21.25 metres
Length waterline:20.16 metres
Beam:6.5 metres
Draught:1.3 metres
Depth:2.5 metres
Displacement:72 tonnes
Capacity:7.5 tonnes
Main engines:2 x MAN i6-850, each 625 kW at 2,300 rpm
Propulsion:2 x fixed-pitch propellers
Maximum speed:25 knots
Cruising speed:20 knots
Fuel capacity:7,700 litres
Freshwater capacity:1,000 litres
Sewage capacity:400 litres
Accommodation:Galley; crew lounge; crew mess; bathrooms; crew berths; laundry areas
Operational area:Great Barrier Reef

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