Irish boatbuilder Safehaven Marine has launched the prototype of its latest new design: XSV 17 ‘Thunder Child’.

The XSV 17 is a development of Safehaven’s new Barracuda range of high speed, low RCS Interceptor / patrol craft for commercial, Search and Rescue and naval operations. The new design brings even greater capabilities incorporating greater speed, greater range, higher crew capacity and an even lower RCS (Radar Cross Section).

The first of class ‘Thunder Child’ is an undeniably striking and stylish craft, however the resulting sleek profile is purely as a result of form following function due to her unique design features, which combine a high speed wave piercing hull design with a low radar signature superstructure. The principle dimensions of XSV 17 are an L.O.A. of 18m (17.3m moulded) a 4m beam and a draft of .85m.

According to Safehaven, typical operational roles for this impressive new design would be patrol and surveillance around port and harbour infrastructure as well as coastal and offshore installations and anchorages. XSV 17 is also imminently capable of very high speed pursuit and apprehension of those engaged in illegal waterbourne activities such as trafficking. Her long range and crew living facilities are designed for extended offshore operations. From a naval perspective its possible deployment scenarios are far reaching, ‘Covert’ surveillance can be undertaken with a greatly reduced risk of detection, thereby maximising the mission’s chances of success.

XSV has an innovative and unique hull form that allows it to operate in two distinct modes, fully planing and wavepiercing. The hull combines a deep V hull form with a 24 degree transom deadrise for her aft planning area combined with a wave piercing bow, which is designed to run clear of the water at high speeds reducing drag and maximising speed, but which can be bought into dynamic effect with running trim control from large hydraulic trim tabs allowing the bow to become wavepiercing and dramatically reduce slamming in head seas thereby maximising endurance for her crew when operating in rough conditions.

Occasionally though a fine entry and wave piercing bow are not what you want, and for these situations, principally in large following seas, Safehaven has developed anti-submersion fins at her bow. Hydraulic in operation they can be adjusted for speed and wave height and are intended to prevent excessive submersion in large following seas in very rough conditions when speed inevitably must be reduced.

The design allows for high maximum speeds of 60kts+ with propulsion either by surface drives or hybrid waterjets, the latter allowing speeds of 50kts+. The first of class vessel, Thunder Child featured here uses surface drive propulsion supplied by Metamarine of Italy and is powered by a pair of Caterpillar C12.9 1,000hp engines and is achieving over 56kts at present with more to come, and has a 45kts+ cruise speed. Long range fuel tanks provide a range of 700nm+.

XSV 17 has a crew capacity that allows for up to 12 persons to be seated, all on shock mitigation seating in her climate controlled main cabin, which has been designed to offer maximum visibility and situational awareness in a comfortable, secure and highly focused environment for multi role operations, offering up to four individual command positions with their own consoles. The seats fitted on Thunder Child are ‘Wavebreaker’ shock mitigation suspension units and carbon race bucket seats developed and supplied by AMP Power in Holland, which dramatically increase crew endurance in rough seas. The design of her large forward cabin allows a modular configuration and has been configured so that it can function in three operational roles with conversion undertaken quickly and easily between: Pursuit and interception, offshore patrol- in which case full live aboard accommodation is provided in a large, spacious forward cabin, and S.A.R. operations or troop deployment. In this role an additional 16 survivors / combatants can be carried.

For S.A.R. roles the design is fully ‘self-righting’ able to recover after capsize by a large breaking wave. Her performance enables much faster emergency response times than conventional S.A.R. craft designs, virtually doubling their speed capabilities, and with statistics indicating over 90% of incidents occur in fair to moderate conditions where XSVs higher speeds could be utilised, the ability to offer faster response times can crucially make a significant difference in saving lives. In extreme conditions the design still offers a high degree of survivability, albeit at reduced speeds.

The design of XSV 17 utilises various stealth technologies to produce a lower RCS (radar cross section), which can be optionally offered allowing it to operate with a very high degree of invisibility to an adversary’s radar. Stealth technologies are employed in the superstructure and hull design utilizing flat plane principles to its surfaces in its front, aft and cabin side projections to deflect radar beams away from source. These unique features work together with RAM and specialized outfitting, to produce a vessel with a very significantly lower than normal RCS primarily from forward and rear aspects but also to a high level in side aspects. Safehaven’s ‘stealth’ capabilities have been independently Naval Service tested and proven to offer a ‘very significantly’ lower RCS than conventional craft. Operational practicality and crew safety is maintained by utilisation of safe, boarding capable side decks and aft cockpit space.

XSV 17 is built from advanced lightweight cored composite construction for her hull and superstructure, offering a low dialectic, light weight and high strength. Her windows were specially developed by Safehaven for maximum strength and lightness by utilising hard coated 12mm polycarbonate with an additional outer protective film for the side windows, embedded directly in the FRP structure, with 18mm laminated glass, steeply raked to minimise pressure loadings from green seas, utilised for the forward screens.

As well as a full array of navigation equipment including HD Radar, radio communications, AIS, CCTV and GPS systems, all supplied by Garmin on Thunder Child, a range of specialised sensors are offered enabling multi task operational control. FLIR Thermal /night vision infrared camera systems are fitted for surveillance and night time operations. Hyperspike and ROSY (Rapid obscuring system) can be integrated concealed below decks and remotely raised through watertight hatches for deployment.

By Jake Frith