The Norwegian Lifeboat Organisation, the NSSR, has taken delivery of the first of a new type of fast rescue boat. Based on a commercial hull, this new rescue boat is designed for high speed operations in protected waters. The design was developed by Hydrolift working closely with the NSSR. Eker Design was also involved in the development of the concept.

The deep vee hull of the Einar Staff is a standard design from Hydrolift, a builder that specialises in high speed craft and who has previously built patrol boats for police and para-military operations. The rescue boat design is 12.6 metres long with the hull constructed from advanced composites using vacuum infused sandwich construction. The hull has a deadrise of 20° and the normal stepped type hull that Hydrolift uses has not been used in this design because steps in the hull would interfere with the water flow to the jet propulsion. For the same reason the spray rails on the hull have been kept to the outer edges of the underwater section to prevent any interference with the water flow. The beam is 3.9 metres and the vessel operates with a normal draft of just under one metre allow it to operate in very shallow waters. With full tanks the displacement is 11.2 tonnes.

The hull is protected by heavy duty foam fendering and the topsides feature a secondary chine for spray deflection. Spotlights are built into the cut-off bow and a further powerful EmArc metal halide floodlight is mounted on the top of the wheelhouse. The wheelhouse has a very distinctive shape with a sharp down flow towards the front end. It is topped by the mast that provides the mounting point for the wide range of antenna required for communications and navigation.

The wheelhouse is open ended at the rear and features sprung seating for four although the vessel is designed for normal operation with a three man crew. A notable feature of the control station is the absence of a steering wheel with steering controlled through a tiller mounted on the central plinth between the two helm seats which is now the standard arrangement in NSSR lifeboats. Much of the instrumentation has been mounted above the windscreen to reduce clutter with the two main electronic displays remaining in front of the drivers.

Furuno equipment has been specified and the electronic screens allow the displays to be tailored to show information appropriate to the type of operation. FLIR night vision equipment is also fitted in addition to the radar. Other electronics include an echo sounder, an autopilot and a VHF radio direction finder for pin-pointing distress signals. With the centrally mounted controls either driver can take over control and the very slim windscreen pillars are a feature of the wheelhouse to improve visibility from the helm. The wheelhouse windows are fitted with a de-frosting system for winter operations.

For communications the Einar Staff has a pair of fixed VHF radios plus two handheld units. Mobile phone GSM connections are also built in and the crew wear headsets for personal communications. Video cameras provide the helmsman with a view of activities on the aft deck.

Down below there is a day room with seating plus a toilet. There is a small galley with a microwave, coffee machine and a fridge. Medical equipment is stored here and this includes oxygen equipment, an advanced first aid kit, a de-fibrilator, and a stretcher.

The Einar Staff is powered by a pair of FTP 500 hp diesels of type N67 and these are coupled to ZF gearboxes of type ZF280 and then to Rolls Royce 25A3 water jets. The water jet controls can be coupled a joystick control to give exceptional low speed manoeuvrability. Access to the engine compartment is through a deck hatch and the air intakes are mounted right at the stern in raised boxes. The fuel tanks hold 700 litres and there is a small water tank holding 48 litres.

The maximum speed of this new rescue boat is in excess of 45 knots making it one of the fastest rescue boats in operation today and this speed highlights the increasing need for speed for inshore rescue. An 8.8 kW Sleipner bow thruster aids manoeuvrability at slow speed and the boat is fitted with interceptor trim control systems.

For towing the Einar Staff is fitted with a Disc type towing hook on the aft deck below the launching ramp. The bollard pull when towing is 2.4 tonnes. Between the two aft air intake boxes there is an aluminium extendable portable slipway that provides stowage for the Sea Doo Spark rescue PWC (personal watercraft) and when the cradle is extended it creates a launch and recovery ramp for the PWC. Having this Sea Doo PWC extends the search capability and it can also can be launched for carrying out inshore rescues in beach areas or close to rock areas where the mother craft might be restricted in operations.

For salvage operations when dealing with sinking or flooded craft the Einar Staff carries two salvage pumps. One of these is portable with a capacity of 830 litres per minute and is driven by a petrol engine. The second is electrically powered with a capacity of 300 litres per minute.

The NSSR plans to build 10 of this new class of rescue boat which is a major boost for the builders. This first rescue boat of this new class will be based in Oslo Fjord where there is a high volume of leisure boats during the busy summer months. The Hydrolift yard is based in Fredrikstad at the south end of Oslo Fjord.

By Dag Pike