Senior operational, logistic and maintenance officers from the South African Navy (SAN) got a taste of a new family of fast support boats which could enter service in the next few years.
Rhino Craft heavy-duty work boats were first designed and fabricated for use in the West African offshore oil and gas market in 2003 in response to a diving contractor’s request to develop a relatively indestructible workboat for servicing offshore structures with bow-catchers. Ten years later these initial boats are still in operation.
A Rhino Craft workboat was extensively used in 2010 to effect an extreme offshore repair works operation for the EM Buoy tethers. This work was executed for PetroSA in swells often exceeding 5m. On completion, the diving supervisor commented that any other workboat would not have lasted; "GRP would have been shattered, aluminium would have been ripped and conventional RIBs did not even warrant mention". The boat suffered a few superficial gouges, which were readily repaired, and the boat was as good as new.
Virtually indestructible workboats for use with outboard motors and inboard diesels
Rhino’s craft are primarily fabricated from high density polyethylene (HDPE) and have been designed, developed and tested to create a robust and virtually indestructible workboat for use with outboard motors as well as inboard diesels with Z drives or jet drives. The hulls have been well tested and proven in harsh offshore conditions, impacting with solid and floating steel structures.
Standard craft incorporate pontoon seating and up-stand gunnels, lifting pad-eyes, deck lashing pad eyes, consoles and lockers. They are generally fitted with a bow step up and hand rail compatible with conventional offshore structure bow-catcher boat landings, as well as aluminium chain lockers, rubber D-fenders, pontoon roping and scupper flaps for the self-draining decks. Lifting pad-eyes are integral with the sponsons or hull frames to minimise reliance on welded joints.
Unlike RIBs, which are extremely vulnerable when impacting against offshore structures, the Rhino Craft work boats have a surrounding semi-rigid 500mm diameter HDPE pipe sponson that acts as a heavy-duty fender capable of flexing under extreme impacts. On more recent boats these pipe sponsons are filled with polystyrene foam to ensure flotation even if the pipe-wall is breached.
Rhino Craft are continually evolving and improving to meet client needs. We are very receptive to including specific client requirements in new boats. Their hulls require minimal maintenance, and can be easily repaired or adapted by relatively unskilled staff.
Rhino Craft are well-suited for use as SCUBA replacement boats (SRPs) and personnel transfer boats as well as being adaptable to fast rescue craft (FRCs).
Military patrol boats (MPBs) and riverine patrol boats (RPBs)
The high strength, durability and repairability of HDPE make it an ideal material for the fabrication of military patrol boats (MPBs) and riverine patrol boats (RPBs). For these applications, the use of dual inboard diesels with jet drive propulsion is favoured to minimise the dangers of floating debris or shallow water shoals.
These patrol boats use a slab side hull that has a sandwich construction filled with expanded foam. The sides can be clad with low density armour sheeting.
Jet drives for inboard diesels
For manoeuvrability, performance and safety, we have found that generally jet drive propulsion offers the optimum solution for use with inboard diesels. Based on our experience we have opted for the UltraJet and their ancillaries.
We have developed a good co-operative relationship with Marine Jet Power in England, which is the supplier of the UltraJet.