US-based boat manufacturer Willard Marine has secured a contract to deliver the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) with three aluminum hydrographic survey launch ships (HSLs).
Under the terms of the agreement, two Willard Marine HSLs will be built for the 208ft-long NOAA ship, Thomas Jefferson, and an additional HSL for the 231ft-long ship, Rainier.
The 28ft-long hull-mounted HSLs with towed sonar units will be used to conduct oceanographic surveys for updating NOAA’s suite of nautical charts to ensure safe navigation of commercial shipping, commercial fishing and recreational vessels on the US coast.
The ships will be equipped with Cummins QSC8.3 engine capable of 510 HP with a ZF Marine 305-2 transmission and will offer additional flexibility to add unmanned autonomous capability.
Willard Marine president Ulrich Gottschling said: "For 35 years, Willard Marine has built dependable, mission-proven vessels for American and international government agencies around the world.
"NOAA has been procuring fibre glass SOLAS rescue boats from Willard Marine since 2004, and we are proud to continue serving them with larger, aluminum survey ships to support their very important charting responsibilities."
The HSLs are expected to be delivered to NOAA by mid 2016.
The customised HSLs for NOAA are derived from a former SeaArk Marine commercial boat design that Willard Marine acquired the licencing rights to last year.
In November 2014, NOAA contracted Willard Marine to develop two new sizes of safety of life at sea (SOLAS) fast rescue boats (FRBs) to help facilitate its research-and-survey missions.
The company offers a wide range of vessels for multiple applications, including law enforcement, search-and-rescue operations and commercial utilisation besides military-specific RIBs.
Image: Willard Marine’s HSL designs for NOAA are derived from a former SeaArk Marine commercial boat. Photo: courtesy of Willard Marine, Inc.