Strategic Marine shipyards in Singapore has handed over ten rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RHIB) to Indonesia’s national search and rescue agency, Badan Nasional Pencarian dan Pertolongan (BASARNAS).

Dubbed the ‘Viper’ class, the vessels are the latest in a string of orders from Indonesian Government services and take the number of hulls delivered to date to a total of 32.

Designed by renowned Australian design firm Southerly Designs, the craft represent the first significant deliveries of RHIB style vessels from both designer and builder, and judging from the enthusiastic response from the end users they will not be the last.

To date, the vessels have been delivered in two variants with 17 delivered for the Indonesian Navy, the foundation customer, and a further 15 delivered for BASARNAS.

The original specification called for a RHIB type vessel capable of 45k with seating for 12 passengers, two crew and space for a forward weapons mount, delivered at an economical price.

Following on from the navy orders, the BASARNAS variant reduces seating to six and removes the weapons mount, enabling greater operational deck space and sufficient clear deck to embark multiple stretchered patients.  The BASARNAS specification also called for an alternate brand of outboard motor, greater range and fuel capacity, and a dedicated towing post, all of which were easily accommodated with minimal change to the basic design.

Both variants are equipped with a comprehensive suite of communications and navigation equipment, and built-in lifting lugs for easy lifting for delivery, deployment and maintenance.

Aluminium structures in accordance with Lloyds Register rules for special service craft and equipment and stability in accordance with UK MCA small police boat code ensures that these are rugged, stable, safe and well-equipped vessels.

Beyond efficient construction techniques, a significant contributor to the economics of this vessel class is the ability for the complete vessel to be shipped within a standard 40ft sea container.

The fully rigged vessels have an overall length of 10.7m, beam of 2.9m and height of 3.3m, yet the complete vessel, excluding outboard motors, is able to fit within the container, enabling efficient shipping to any required port.

Suitable shipping dimensions are achieved through the use of inflatable collars, rather than the foam collars that are becoming increasingly more prevalent on this class of vessel, and various folding and removable accessories.

For example, the outboard motor guard bar folds flush with the targa bar, which is in turn hinged at the vessel bulwark, while the sunshade for the helm seating is a separate and detachable item.

This configuration enables the vessels to be fully rigged, wired and tested, including all nav lights, radars and other equipment, in the shipyard.  The appendages are then simply folded up prior to packing in the container. On delivery, rigging is simple and requires no technical input.

Once in the destination country, the local agent for the selected outboard motor can then complete the motor installation and commissioning offering comprehensive local warranty and support for the propulsion package.

The relatively narrow beam dictated by the container dimensions drove the designer to adopt the use of a D shaped inflatable collar,  providing maximum deck space.  Additionally, the use of full height aluminium bulwarks and D shaped collars means that the inflatable element does not actually form part of the watertight integrity of the hull, meaning that any damage to or puncture to the collar will not compromise the integrity of the vessel nor its initial stability. An invaluable feature when operating in potentially harsh conditions far removed from immediate access to rescue or repair.

To date, the response from end users of these new vessels has been emphatically positive, with one official claiming that these are ‘the best handling and best riding RHIB’s in the fleet’.

Operationally both variants have recently seen significant active deployment, supporting diving, search, and recovery operations as part of the high-profile response to the tragic loss of Lion Air flight 610 offshore Jakarta.

Overall the Viper class in a highly capable and versatile response vessel or daughter craft capable of being powered for speeds in excess of 50k. With rugged high-quality design and construction, predictable handling and flexible layouts in an affordable package these craft are ideal for use in any number of applications.