RIB Report

Make no mistake about it, VT Halmatic would like nothing more than to sweep onto U.S. shores and snap up large chunks of military and commercial RIB business in the coming years. During a recent visit to the boatbuilder's Portchester, U.K. building facility, commercial controller Sebastian Freeman could say it no more simply: "Halmatic is always looking for the right partner." The company, under the Halmatic name solo until being taken over by Vosper Thornycroft (hence the VT) in 1998, has a long and distinguished history of building boats, starting with production of some of the first glass reinforced plastic boats 50 years ago. In fact, the company is the largest builder of RIBs in the U.K., with most of the business coming from the military and commercial lines of business. Relocated to the Portchester Shipyard in 1999, the company today operates from the same shipbuilding facility that built many of the torpedo boats during WWII.

While the Royal Navy is the company's largest RIB customer, it builds boats of various type, size and speed from most all materials except aluminum.

The company is also quite adept at exporting, with 60 to 70 percent of its annual turnover coming from outside the U.K. "It is how we survive," said Freeman. Keeping with the theme of this section though the company's RIB design and construction methods have advanced considerably since the introduction of the Atlantic 21 as the R.N.L.I.'s inshore lifeboat. Throughout this period of evolution Halmatic has maintained its position as designer and builder of the most technically advanced RIBs to fulfil the most demanding military, commercial and rescue roles.

Halmatic's current range of RIBs extends from 20 to 40 ft. (6 to 12 m), with both the outboard engine Arctics and inboard diesel Pacifics based on sea-kind deep V hulls, producing top speeds in excess of 50 knots. The heavyduty hulls are built from polyester fiberglass or from composites incorporating carbon fiber and Kevlar.

The Pacific 32 is a proven offshore RIB in service with search and rescue organizations as well as super yacht owners. Various layout configurations are available including open deck, forward cabin or self-righting wheelhouse variants. Halmatic claims that its 50- knot, 10-seat Arctic 28 is the most powerful boarding boat available in the market place. It operates in substantial numbers with the U.K.'s Royal Marines for marine counter-terrorism operations and with leading European, African, Middle Eastern and Australasian Special Forces units. A variety of sophisticated navigation and communication equipment is available together with weapon systems and boarding ancillaries. The Arctic 28 is both road and air transportable and air-deployable.

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Other stories from November 2002 issue


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