Fast landing craft to start trials

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A fast landing vessel that can transport troops and armoured fighting vehicles from Royal Navy amphibious ships to the beach will soon begin sea trials.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has contracted Qinetiq to design and build the vessel, known as PACSCAT (Partial Air Cushion Supported CATamaran). The craft will be designed to meet the MoD’s requirement for rapid amphibious operations from over the horizon.

The all-aluminium PACSCAT ISDC measures 30m in length and 7.7m in the beam; it carries a design vehicle payload of 55 tonnes and an approximate loaded weight of 175 tonnes.

The vessel is propelled by twin waterjets and is driven by MTU Diesel engines that are reportedly capable of delivering significantly faster speeds than traditional landing craft.

Qinetiq was contracted by the MoD’s Research Acquisition Organisation (now the Defence Technology Innovation Centre) to manage the procurement of the demonstrator vessel, to act as the design authority and to run the safety process and trials programme.

Qinetiq invited competitive bids from a number of companies in the shipbuilding sector to help with the craft’s development. Hovercraft builder Griffon Hoverwork is leading the construction team and is also fitting out the vessel. Aluminium Shipbuilders will help construct the hull and BMT Nigel Gee will provide the vessel’s design detail.

‘The PACSCAT concept is a leading contender to meet the MoD’s fast landing craft requirement,’ said Iain Kennedy, practice leader for Qinetiq’s Maritime Platforms Consultancy business.

‘It will be capable of performing a variety of roles, where high speed and high payload capacity are required and has exceptional beaching qualities because of its low and variable draught,’ he added.

Qinetiq has already performed onshore trials of smaller versions of the craft. Trials of a full-sized PACSCAT ISDC will start later this year.

According to Kennedy, after the full-scale tests are complete, engineers will make comprehensive recommendations for design optimisation.