Integrating Hovercraft with the Latest Technology for Advanced Search & Rescue Capability
Due to coastal geography there are many amphibious areas that can’t be reached by conventional boats and marine craft, which presents a variety of risks and consequences for coastguards and defence forces around the world. Griffon Hoverwork have had over 40 years developing hovercraft solutions for Search and Rescue (SAR) operations in conjunction with government departments and private organizations. Working with operators to ensure that craft are kept at the highest level of serviceability and despatch reliability by a process of continuous improvement of machinery, systems, training and equipment.
Our Lead Design Engineer Greg Dawson says:
When compared to a monohull vessel with a similar high-speed capability, a hovercraft will generally have a wider beam and hence present a more stable platform when in displacement mode for casualty recovery. As an air cushioned vehicle (ACV), a hovercraft provides a more comfortable ride with far lower whole-body vibration (WBV) and vertical accelerations than a high -speed monohull. This will reduce fatigue in the operating crew and allow them to remain effective over the length of a long SAR mission. For the larger craft in the GHL range, such as the AP-188 and BHT150, the stability provided by the wide platform of a hovercraft is ideally suited to helicopter slinging operations, particularly for well deck craft where there is minimal superstructure forward of the wheelhouse. Typically, the deck will have a local load rating of over 2000kgs, and a combined axle load of 8,800kgs making it a true multi use work space capable of carrying a diverse range of equipment loaded using the craft bow ramp.
SAR craft must also provide for a safe and comfortable environment for the crew to conduct long duration sorties. Larger GHL craft designed for SAR include rest areas, galley, W/C and storage space for specialist equipment such as dive gear. The safety of the crew is also enhanced by the sheltered weather deck and ability of a hovercraft to reduce its freeboard when off hover in displacement mode. This aids casualty recovery from the sea at the midships side decks, or by lowering the ramp.
Griffon Hoverwork Ltd craft designed for SAR roles can be fitted with a NATS integrated radio communications suite allowing the craft to act as the Platform on Scene coordinator for multi-agency assets including surface ships, aircraft and vehicles.
Griffon have also taken advantage of advances in unmanned aerial vehicle technology, demonstrating the launch and recovery of drones from the deck of the hovercraft to aid SAR.”
Over recent years there have been many advances in unmanned aerial vehicle technology. GHL have been in talks with specialist unmanned and jetpack technology companies who would operate from the well deck of hovercraft to deliver advanced medical outreach and humanitarian advantage. Already, operators can utilise the real time data from a drone for surveillance and reconnaissance training, plus software that will assist communications, gathering intelligence, navigating and data sharing in challenging environments around the world. This helps to deliver advantages to countries looking to better protect their borders, save more lives at sea in shallow amphibious terrain and use this across defence operations to deliver operational advantage.
Griffon Hoverwork have the capability to bespoke build and design engineer each craft to suit customer requirements anywhere around the world, and they continue to look at ways to integrate the latest SAR assets through a system of continuous improvement. This will allow defence forces and coastguards to be more operationally effective and at a significant advantage in achieving long term goals through adopting the latest technology. Our SAR hovercraft function in places boats can’t; extreme climates and environments around the world, from beaches along the hot tropical coastlines of India to the iced-over rivers of Canada.