Coastal Guardians fleet now fully deployed
Briggs Marine’s 15 year contract to provide the UK’s Environment Agency with a fleet of coastal survey vessels came to full fruition with a naming ceremony for the last of five, the Solent Guardian.
Solent Guardian is the fourth nearly identical 18.3m catamaran built Mustang Marine following development in collaboration with Briggs Marine and Australia’s Incat Crowther. These four vessels are based to operate regionally around the UK coastline, with Solent Guardian now deployed on the South Coast, Humber Guardian on the East Coast from above the Thames Estuary to Aberdeen, Severn Guardian covering from Lands End to North Wales, and Mersey Guardian extending coverage up to the Hebrides. Thames Guardian, a similar but smaller 14.5m vessel, covers the River Thames and its estuary.
Briggs Marine and the Environment Agency hammered out the contract over a period of three years, under which Briggs owns, operates and crews the vessels. The new boats replace smaller, monohull craft which had been in service for more than 20 years and have now been sold on to independent hydro survey operators. During negotiations, every aspect of the vessels’ design was thoroughly evaluated to optimise versatility, operational efficiency, crew comfort and safety. Under the terms of the contract the vessels are available to the Environment Agency for 16 days of each month and can be chartered by third parties for the remaining days, although flexibility is built in for the Environment Agency to take more days as determined by evolving demand.
Primarily intended for estuarine and coastal works up to a mile from shore, the Guardian series provide safe and effective platforms for carrying out a wide range of marine survey duties. A large working area of the A-frame equipped aft deck leads into spacious wet and dry laboratories and forward to a comfortable mess and galley area between the lab areas and the raised wheelhouse. Stairs from the galley/mess area lead down to accommodation for six in three twin cabins and a shower area in the hulls. All these facilities mark major improvements over those available on the previous craft.
In addition to the A-frame, the Guardian vessels are equipped with data winch, trawl winch and moonpool, DGPS, a Kongsberg single beam sounder and gyrocompass. A data network is installed and two computers in the dry lab provide for data processing. Twin Volvo Penta D9-MH main engines drive propellers through Twin Disc MGX-5075 gearboxes to provide a service speed of 16 knots, double that of the previous craft.
The Environment Agency’s marine monitoring service manager Roger Proudfoot, who presided at the naming ceremony said: “With the support of Briggs Marine we have managed to rationalise our fleet of marine vessels, maintaining flexibility, with an enhanced capability to carry out a wider range of tasks.”
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