Isle of Wight boat builders Island RIBs has been commissioned to build two 7.5m RIBs designed for the harsh environment of the Antarctic.
The new boats, which will be deployed by the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), are designed to offer high levels of sea keeping ability, stability and flexibility of design.
Watch our Born to Engineer film about Island RIBs apprentice Lewis Wilde
A special BAS RIB team will operate the two new craft out of Rothera Research Station, the UK’s Antarctic Hub, located on the Antarctic Peninsula.
Collectively the team has over 100 years of professional RIB handling experience, including 25 years working on small boats in polar waters,
Supporting marine science
The new craft’s roles will be to support the BAS world-class marine science and operate as a search and rescue vessel for the research station.
Each of the boats will be used to transfer scientists, engineers and their equipment to and from the remote island sites in safety, battling the unpredictable, freezing conditions. They will be used as a platform for research divers, as well as to deploy and recover sampling equipment and autonomous underwater vehicles.
Each base platform is designed to be interchangeable. This means either of the boats can be deployed as a search and rescue craft or a dive vessel for the teams that work from the Rothera station.
The crafts flexible design allows for a series of deck fittings installed that allows all seats, dive suites and stowage boxes to be changed or removed entirely and each boat is fitted with custom Mercury engines from Barrus and enhanced tubes from Venture Marine Ltd.
Our RIBs are built with a focus on safety, durability and ease of maintenance. A BAS technician, who is very likely not a marine engineer, with training, will be able to carry out maintenance and repairs. This is especially important considering the remote locations they will be operating in.Jo Burke, Director of Island RIB
Rothera Research Station
Opened in 1975, Rothera Research Station is located at the southern tip of the Wormald Ice Piedmont, just to the west of the Antarctic Peninsula, on Adelaide Island. The station’s staff varies from around 100 in the summer to only 22 during the winter months
Each summer teams from the British Antarctic Survey, UK universities and international collaborations use the station to study marine and terrestrial biology.
The new Island RIBs boats will assist with a number of projects including a long-term study to measure the temperature, salinity, micronutrients and Chlorophyll levels at a site on the Antarctic Peninsula suffering the effects of rapid climate change. Research like this is used to improve the current predictive models of global warming.
The boats will be launched in time to be exhibited on the Barrus stand at the Seawork – Commercial Marine & Workboat Exhibition and Conference, 3-5th July 2018.