AWARDS 2021 | Best Small SAR Boat – JB41 – Harwood Marine

Best Small SAE Boat – JB41
Best Small SAE Boat – JB41

This is a slightly bigger and considerably more substantial search and rescue (SAR) boat than the boats usually found on Australia's exposed New South Wales Coast. Marine Rescue New South Wales, the owner, has a considerable fleet of conventional, outboard-powered RIBs, so this larger boat with-foam filled sponsons, twin diesel engines, ride control, and a flying bridge is a significant departure from the norm.

The boat will operate from Jervis Bay, south of Sydney, where big seas and swells are common. Apparently, it handles such conditions very well.

"JB41 was custom designed and built to Marine Rescue's requirements and needs, and is now one of the largest and most technically advanced vessels in its fleet," Harwood Marine told Baird Maritime. "The specially designed hull shape makes for a very dry vessel, with special equipment selected to help the operator respond to emergency situations effectively. The overall finish was of extremely high quality, with comfort achieved for a smooth ride for the crew.

The builder remarked that the main difficulty in developing the new boat was in the design stage to ensure all equipment requested was easily accessible and can be maintained throughout the life of the vessel and with minimal issues.

"Every build is different, but the main lesson learned was that, being a custom-build vessel, it would be ideal to have designs completely finished to ensure the flow of the actual build process so that we can produce the build in a shorter timeframe."

To that end, Harwood Marine is currently creating 3D modelling in-house for its future builds, providing trades with a greater visual idea of the processes from start to finish.

The builder added that shipbuilding is an ever-evolving industry, with future changes to environmental targets and carbon emission reduction coming to the forefront now and into the future.

"The effects these changes will have on classification rules and regulations will provide new challenges for our new builds," said Harwood Marine, "with improvements to energy efficiency continually being designed, developed and improved. With the key date of 2030 set as the goal in achieving reductions, vessels being built now will have to comply with new rules to address climate change within the shipbuilding industry."

The builder added that the cost of materials has increased while the availability of shipbuilding materials such as steel has decreased. This means shipbuilding projects in the future will have to have even tighter project timelines and milestones to ensure the build process is not compromised by fluctuating pricing and material shortages, or the rising costs in freight.

Business for Harwood Marine slowed down in 2020 due to Covid-19, but the uncertainty brought about by the pandemic did not prevent business from taking off once more afterwards.

"We had a fantastic year in 2021, with growth across our business in all areas. We have a number of newbuilds in production at present in both steel and aluminium, and they range up to 45 metres LOA. These projects have our fabrication sheds at capacity and have led to a growth in employment. We have also seen a large increase in the newbuild sector, with many new clients coming onboard as our business profile grows."

The company added that the repair and refit sector had a continual stream of work, with competition for obtaining a slot on the company's slipway increasing. To ensure it can continue to service existing clients as well as any future clients, an order is underway for a 450-tonne travel lift, which will allow for multiple repair jobs. The new lift is currently being built to order, and is due to come online in mid-2022.

"We are extremely optimistic about the future," Harwood Marine told Baird Maritime, "and we are looking forward to seeing the business continue to grow and evolve, becoming a one-stop marine hub for newbuilds, repairs and ongoing maintenance servicing for our clients in both the commercial and leisure sectors."

Commenting further about the future, Harwood Marine said that clients in the marine emergency services sector will continue to update and grow their fleets, given the increase in demand for such services over the past few years in situations such as flood rescue and response, in particular providing waterborne SAR to service bushfire-ravaged towns when roads were cut and tighter controls were imposed on borders and waterways.

"As emergency response vessels need to be reliable, operators will be looking for trouble-free and minimal maintenance builds, including user friendly equipment for changing crews. Speed, electronics and emerging technologies will also continue to be very important to these services, to aid in quick response to all emergency situations while ensuring enhanced crew comfort and safety."

As regards the Australian workboat industry, Harwood Marine said it has seen growth in the number of on-water works being undertaken and planned, and so clients are looking at building additional infrastructure to keep up with current and emerging contracts.

The major advances and trends that the builder considers critical to the business and its clients will be the ability to quickly respond and build quality vessels in a timely manner given the demand at present, and the shortages of skilled trades in the marine industry. There is heavy competition for trades, and this will continue to cause issues for many in the engineering field.

"Although the future is bright," Harwood Marine told Baird Maritime, "our industry needs to come together to ensure we continue to train and develop new talent across the board. Our marine industry is a great one, and offers diverse career opportunities for generations to come."

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