VESSEL REVIEW | Australian HDPE patrol RHIB demonstrator model hits the water

VESSEL REVIEW | Australian HDPE patrol RHIB demonstrator model hits the water


Australia’s PFG Group has launched the first build of its new 8.3-metre patrol RHIB design as a prototype for a range of military uses.

Designed to carry military personnel at high speed and in rough seas, the HDPE patrol craft is powered by twin 200hp (150kW) Suzuki outboards, and is capable of in excess of 47 knots.

The vessel is fitted with warfare fighting capabilities including gun turrets, ammunition lockers and a bow-mounted non-lethal sonic boom weapon.

PFG uses traditional boat construction techniques and cuts all the frame and plate sections from HDPE sheet supplied from Germany. These sections are then welded together and completed with the HDPE hull and HDPE console.

As HDPE does not suffer from electrolysis or corrosion, resists fouling and has high levels of UV protection, the level of maintenance required for the vessel is low. The RHIB is manufactured to ISO and NSCV, and is ballistically tested to NIJ standard 09108.01 without modification.

The vessel also provides for reduced levels of personnel fatigue as the HDPE material absorbs vibration. This means that military personnel can maintain peak physical and mental condition when embarking on warfighting operations in treacherous conditions.

According to PFG, the biggest challenges in building the vessel were achieving the on-water performance characteristics of the vessel when fully laden with more than two tonnes of personnel and equipment.

The use of skegs inward and below the collars allows the vessel to turn at full speed without sliding, which makes the turns tighter and the turning outgoing speed much higher.

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The vessel has also been designed to plough through oncoming waves, rather than bounce over them. This reduces elevated pitch and makes the ride much flatter and faster.

The RHIB was designed to be trailerable by a standard commercial vehicle, with the boat-motor-trailer combination weighing in at 3,150 kilograms.

The fit out of the vessel was specifically designed for military use with significant flexibility.

Removable Shark suspension seating was provided for situations when military personnel needed to be secure under full speed, long duration, rough weather pursuits.

General padded bench seating was provided for military operations concerning the movement of dignitaries, and general harbour work.

The vessel is powered with twin four-stroke Suzuki outboards, and its transom can be modified to include the heavier diesel outboards or jet propulsion.

Gun and ammunition lockers are provided beneath the rear and forward seats. These seats are opened using gas struts so that equipment can be quickly accessed without the need for personnel to be holding the lockers open at the same time as trying to retrieve equipment.

A customised bow boarding arrangement allows for rapid boarding of other vessels. This consists of a two-step module through the bow with handrails. This allows for military personnel carrying full kits to quickly move onto other vessels without the need to climb over the side of the vessel, and for those personnel to maintain an upright position at all times.

Recognising the flexible layout of the vessel, a canopy was provided. This is designed to provide shelter whilst at sea and maximise crew comfort.

Additionally, hinged wing doors were provided on gas struts either side of the console. When opened, these doors are secured below the inside of the collar and provide extra shelter to personnel from breaking waves and sea mist.

A centre console was provided to ensure maximum visibility for the operators.

The bow-mounted, non-lethal, sonic-boom weapon from Sitep Italy

The included LW MASS CS-424 (light weight multirole acoustic stabilised system) is a non-lethal, high tech system designed for security and surveillance purposes. Its applications range from ship self-defence and anti-piracy, to border control and search and rescue missions. With its integration of non-lethal acoustic and optical devices, the system is suitable for operations in demanding environments.

The system is stabilised, so it can be used on board vessels, vehicles and small boats. Furthermore, the video-tracking feature makes it possible to track the target once it has been acquired by the cameras.

See all the other content from this month’s Maritime Security Week right here, including reviews, features, opinions and news.

HDPE patrol RHIB demonstrator
Type of vessel: Patrol RHIB
Classification: ISO 6185-3, NSCV 2D
Port of registry: Hobart, Australia
Flag: Australia
Owner: PFG Group, Australia
Designer: One2Three Naval Architects, Australia
Builder: PFG Group
Construction material: HDPE
Length overall: 8.3 metres
Length waterline: 6.9 metres
Beam: 2.99 metres
Draught: 0.55 metres
Depth: 1.21 metres
Gross tonnage: 3.15 metres
Main engine/s: 2 Suzuki outboards, each 200 hp (150 kW)
Maximum speed: 47 knots
Cruising speed: 30 knots
Range: 450 nm
Radar: Simrad
Depth sounder: Simrad
Radio: Icom
GPS: Simrad
Seating: 2 x padded bench seats;

Shark suspension seating

Lighting: Illuminated LED
Floor/deck surface finishes: Non-slip coverings over polymer
Liferaft/s: 8-pax liferaft
Type of fuel: Unleaded
Fuel capacity: 400 litres
Crew: 2
Passengers: 8

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