Motorboat & Yachting: BAE Systems has been awarded £13.5m to build 60 new lightweight rapid response boats for the Royal Navy.
The new boats are designed to be deployed from ship or shore for anti-piracy or drugs missions, or to perform rescue operations.
Travelling at speeds of up to 44 miles per hour, the boats can put a huge physical strain on their driver and crew, and have required extensive design changes to compensate.
The new fleet of RIBs are being fitted with shock absorbing seats to minimise the impact on crew members, and the change has the added benefit of allowing the boats to travel up to six-times further.
The seats are heavy, however, and designers had to find ways to cut weight elsewhere on the boats according to Ben Mason, project manager for the P24 RIB.
To make the savings, the boats are being fitted with a new, lightweight 370HP twin turbo diesel electronic engine.
“Since the engine is electronic, it means a lot of the heavy mechanical components have been removed,” Mason said.
Fibre-reinforced composite is also being used in the boat itself, according to Mason. The composite contains less epoxy resin than traditional polyester resin materials, and has a foam core, both of which help to reduce weight.
“The main weight saving comes through the production process,” he said. “The new P24s are manufactured from carbon and various types of glass, which are oriented in such a way as to give optimised strength to the boat.”
The RIBs will be built over the next four years at the company’s small boats manufacturing facility at Portsmouth Naval Base. They will be deployed on the Royal Navy’s Off Shore Patrol Vessels, and the new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers, which are due to arrive in Portsmouth in 2017.