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Mustang delivers SMB for Royal Navy

12 Dec 2011
SMB James Caird IV is seen on the quay with mothership HMS Protector alongside.

SMB James Caird IV is seen on the quay with mothership HMS Protector alongside.

Mustang Marine has completed the handover of the Survey Motor Boat (SMB), James Caird IV, for operation from the Royal Navy’s newly commissioned Antarctic patrol ship, HMS Protector.

Having been awarded the contract after a competitive tender by DE&S Ships, Mustang Marine has designed and built an ice capable SMB for operation in Antarctica and able to withstand many extremes of weather.

The James Caird IV will be launched by the mothership HMS Protector, carrying up to five crew when undertaking surveys and an additional five passengers for short transits, operating between 12 to 16 hours a day. As well as a primary role of being a survey vessel for the Royal Navy, James Caird IV will also be used for the transfer of personnel from ship to shore and will serve as a training vessel.

With an LOA of 10.5m and based on a proven design which is currently in service with the British Antarctic Survey in South Georgia, the James Caird IV has an aluminium welded hull construction and is built to the MCA Small Commercial Vessel Code as a Category 2 boat. The hull provides sufficient displacement without reliance on the red foam-filled collar.

With extensive multibeam sonar equipment on board the SMB will not need to operate in shoals or shallow waters but will be working in Polar areas. Additional longitudinal and transverse bulkheads providing seven watertight compartments have been incorporated into the design, providing further longitudinal stiffness and structural continuity with a greater margin of safety should the vessel sustain any damage.

The insulated and heated wheelhouse is positioned amidships and is also of a welded aluminium construction. There are three front screens, and four windows port and starboard made of toughened glass bonded onto the structure, to provide a broad viewing platform for the officers and crew. The front windows are also equipped with variable speed pantogragh wipers and screen washers to ensure a clear view at all times. These non-opening windows have been arranged to minimise the glare and solar rays, and thus the side and stern windows are tinted. Solar blinds are fitted to the forward facing screens.

The accommodation and areas where the survey recording equipment is being operated are thermally insulated. The heating system is Webasto Air Top Evo 3900 and the air conditioning is Webasto SC7 7000 BTU. Combined they will maintain and control the humidity of the wheelhouse, ensuring all survey equipment has enough temperature control and ventilation to operate efficiently. The HVAC equipment is in operation both whilst out on surveys away from the mothership and when the vessel is secured in its cradle.

HMS Protector’s survey equipment includes an echosounder by Kongsberg Maritime, a multi-beam type EM3002 (GFE) and a single beam type EA 400 (GFE) as well as a sidescan sonar system which has been supplied directly from the Royal Navy. These have all been mounted internally into the hull. Specifically designed and built for service by the Royal Navy, all the survey systems on board are integrated and fully compatible with HMS Protector.

The engine room is positioned aft of the wheelhouse and includes the two Yanmar 6LP STP diesel engines, each having an output of 315 hp at 3,800 rpm and driving Hamilton HJ274 waterjet propulsion units through a ZF63 gearbox.

Engine instrumentation is provided by two FW Murphy Powerview 750 display and control panels converting data from analogue to CAN-bus NMEA 2000. Access to the engine room is via two hatches which lift into position with gas spring assistance and are held in place by steel clips.

Electrical power for the boat and its systems comes from the installation of AuraGen, an induction machine developed in the USA and in service with US armed forces. The AuraGen, similar to an alternator, uses the vessel’s engines as the prime mover. However, unlike the traditional alternator, each AuraGen can provide up to 8.5 kW. The rated power is available at all engine speeds and the system provides, simultaneously, AC and DC power in a variety of voltages, in this case 240VAC and 24VDC. This equipment selection provides all of the required electrical power without the high impact on space and weight associated with traditional generator sets.

Mustang introduced further innovation with the installation of EmpirBus NXT, a new product line based on more than 10 years experience in power distribution. It uses digital switching and has previously been used by Mustang in a number of other successful vessels. EmpirBus NXT is a CAN-bus NMEA 2000 system that offers boat builders the opportunity to save weight and reduce the amount of cable within the vessel as well as providing a neat solution to the survey interconnection requirements.

The SMB’s navigational equipment is sourced from Furuno. It is based around two Furuno MFD12 screens providing the interface to a Furuno DRS4D 4kW 24" UHD Digital radar, the NavNet electronic chart system, a Furuno PG-700 Fluxgate compass, a Furuno GP33 DGPS, a Furuno Log DST-800 and a Furuno DST 800 depth sounding through-hull transducer. There is also a Furuno RD33 Multi Display, a Furuno LH3000 sound signalling and PA system and a Furuno NAVPILOT 700 system. Communications are provided by an Icom ICM603 VHF/DSC, two Navico Axis 250 handhelds and a Sailor Iridium SC4000 satellite telephone system.

The SMB marks a re-birth of Royal Naval vessels being built in Pembroke Dockyard. The last Royal Naval boat to be built and launched there was the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, Oleander, in May 1922. Formal work at Pembrokeshire’s Royal Naval Dockyard ceased in 1926. Although it may no longer have Royal status, Mustang Marine is still able to serve the Royal Navy from this historic location.

Images for this article - click to enlarge

SMB James Caird IV is seen on the quay with mothership HMS Protector alongside. The newbuild is trailerable but will more usually be launched from the mothership. Comprehensive instrumentation at the helm position.

Image copyright © Mercator Media 2014, or image used with permission of the copyright holder.