Hull replacement

A new hull design has been announced by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) for its latest class of all-weather lifeboat, the Fast Carriage Boat 2 (FCB2).

The latest design was chosen following seven design submissions – six from external companies and one from the RNLI – in response to rough-weather trials, which revealed that FCB2’s original hull did not meet operational standards.

Selection of the hull was based on the testing of six scale models built by Seaspeed Marine Consulting. The models were powered by twin waterjets and carried a small video camera in the wheelhouse at the coxswain’s position. Testing was carried out in The Solent, ChichesterHarbour and PooleBay, with further testing carried out at Qinetiq’s OceanBasin and Ship Tank at Haslar, Gosport.

RNLI’s FCB2 project manager, Chris Eves, said: ‘The RNLI is committed to providing its volunteer crews with the very best equipment to carry out their lifesaving role. The introduction of FCB2, the Mersey class’s successor, will ultimately mean the whole fleet of all-weather lifeboats have a 25-knot capability, meaning casualties can be reached more quickly and efficiently.’

The design chosen was created by the RNLI’s in-house naval architects, which performed well against up-sea slamming without compromising down-sea performance.

Eves added: ‘Although we have in-house naval architects, we wanted to open the design process to external organisations, to ensure we were considering all possible solutions. The models all performed well in trials, but the RNLI’s in-house design has been chosen as it provided the best performance across a wide spectrum of requirements. The outcome is perhaps an indication of the understanding the RNLI’s own naval architects have of the requirements of the charity’s volunteer crews.’

According to the RNLI, the next stage of the lifeboat’s development is to improve fuel economy by optimising the hull’s aerodynamics. The latest design is expected to complete sea trials by the middle of 2011.

Click here for a video of the FCB2 undergoing open water trials.