VESSEL REVIEW | Rescue 17 – Locally built self-righting boat for South African sea rescue organisation

Photo: NSRI

A new bespoke offshore rescue craft was recently delivered to the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), a volunteer organisation that provides search and rescue (SAR) services in both coastal and inland waters in South Africa.

The locally built, FRP/composite-hulled boat has been named Rescue 17 as it is based at Station 17 of the NSRI. This station is in the seaside community of Hermanus just south-east of Cape Town, where the boat’s builder, Two Oceans Marine Manufacturing, is located.

Photo: NSRI

The all-weather, self-righting rescue boat is notable for being the first vessel of its series to be built in South Africa. The two earlier NSRI boats that utilise the same design, which was originally developed by French naval architects Pantocarene for operation in rough sea conditions, were either wholly or partially built in France. Rescue 17 will be followed by another seven sister boats, and all seven succeeding units will also be built locally. Dr Cleeve Robertson, CEO of the NSRI, said this vessel modernisation program will see the organisation’s entire fleet of all-weather SAR boats replaced with newer craft over a span of 10 years.

The new boat has an LOA of 14.8 metres, a beam overall of 4.8 metres, a draught of 1.4 metres, and a lightship displacement of 17 tonnes. A pair of Cummins QSC8.3M diesel engines that each produce 441 kW drive Teignbridge propellers to deliver a maximum speed of 28 knots even at full load. The prominent wave-piercing bow helps reduce vertical acceleration and slamming even when navigating through rough seas.

Photo: NSRI

The boat, which was designed for a service life of 40 years, can be deployed on rescue missions as far as 40 nautical miles off the coast. It is crewed by six personnel, namely, a coxswain, a helmsman, a navigator, a bosun/engineer, and two deckhands who are also trained as rescue swimmers. There is also enough space on the vessel to accommodate up to 23 additional personnel, such as rescued survivors of accidents at sea.

The cabin sits on a dense foam suspension assembly that absorbs the vibration and noise from the engine compartment and keeps the noise to just under 76 dB, thereby reducing the stress on the occupants even when the boat is sailing at high speeds. Shock-mitigating seats are also available for the crew. Other key features include a flying bridge for use during operations in clear weather and handrails on the main cabin exterior to provide greater flexibility for transfers and embarkation/disembarkation compared to boats that have traditional handrails placed on the deck perimeter.

The electronics suite meanwhile includes a Furuno radar and a rotating thermal camera to enable SAR missions to be conducted even at night or other instances of reduced visibility.

Photo: NSRI/Simon McDonnell

Rescue 17 will service the entire coastline from Cape Hangklip to Witsand, a stretch of coastline well respected for its challenging maritime conditions and covering the southernmost tip of Africa. The newbuild has since replaced a similarly named smaller boat, which is nearing the end of its expected 40-year operational life.

Rescue 17
Type of vessel: Rescue boat
Flag: South Africa
Owner: National Sea Rescue Institute, South Africa
Designer: Pantocarene, France
Builder: Two Oceans Marine Manufacturing, South Africa
Hull construction material: FRP/composite
Length overall: 14.8 metres
Beam: 4.8 metres
Draught: 1.4 metres
Displacement: 17 tonnes
Main engines: 2 x Cummins QSC8.3M, each 441 kW
Propulsion: 2 x Teignbridge propellers
Maximum speed: 28 knots
Radar: Furuno
Type of fuel: Diesel
Crew: 6

Baird Maritime

The best maritime site on the web. The sea's our scene!