From heated combat to cold floodwaters

Zodiac Milpro's tough FC470
Zodiac Milpro's tough FC470
Fourteen ZMSR 380s have been ordered for surf missions in Ireland
Fourteen ZMSR 380s have been ordered for surf missions in Ireland
ZM FC470 boats waiting to be shipped out for the Wales Fire Services order
ZM FC470 boats waiting to be shipped out for the Wales Fire Services order

Designed as a Special Forces boat, Zodiac Milpro’s FC470 has seen a fair amount of active military combat, but it’s raised its game and is now being enlisted to help the Wales Fire Service win against ‘Acts of God’.

The services needed an easily deployed boat to rescue flood victims, as well as carrying out rescue missions on inland waterways.

Therefore, no less than 17 of these robust inflatables will be distributed throughout the organization’s three main districts. Interestingly, the boats will be paired with 4-stroke outboards from another longstanding Seawork exhibitor EP Barrus. The outboards can easily be raised or removed, so that the boats can be walked through shallow flood waters less than a metre deep.

However, the services did put the boat through its paces before deciding to buy: Tom Parry of Zodiac Milpro told MJ they took potential candidates from two major manufacturers and put them through tests on the Menai Straits in North Wales, known for its particularly fast currents.

However, it was here that the FC470 showed off its advantage. Beneath the transom sits a pair of air-filled, removable tubes, made out tough CSM (Hypalon). “These tubes give the boat a high degree of manoeuvrability and grip, it doesn’t skid sideways on a turn; in fact, it corners as if it is on rails,” said Parry. Further, if there’s a beach landing the inflatable doesn’t rock on its hull, but stays steady, allowing for stable disembarkation.

At 4.7m long with 3m2 of floor area and 1,250kg capacity, it’s designed to hold ten passengers but this means space for the injured and of course, room for a few personal possessions. Finally, as the boats weigh in at 144kg, the fire services will be transporting them on custom-built SBS trailers.

However, this isn’t the only rescue contract recently signed by Milpro. The company also delivered 14 Zodiac Milpro ZMSR 380s for surf missions in Ireland – this boat is extremely lightweight and manoeuvrable with a hull and bow designed to be particularly effective in breaking waves and very stable even in these challenging conditions.

Along with this went 15, especially modified, 25 hp two-stroke motors from Tohatsu, yet another Seawork exhibitor: “We start off with a very robust design, then fit a guard, and change the three-bladed alloy original for a four-blade stainless version,” explained Parry. “We also strengthen the bracket and add waterproof spark plug boots.” All together this makes for a rescue boat capable of handling the extremely harsh, surf environment.

Visit Zodiac Milpro at Seawork International 2018 at berth VA38 or stand PB111, Tohatsu Marine at Q6 and Barrus at stand Q17.

By Stevie Knight

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