Inshore Rescue Hovercraft

We have operated our hovercraft H-005 ‘Hurley Spirit’ since 2004 which is only one of four in RNLI service. The other stations are Hunstanton, Southend on Sea and Morecambe plus 3 relief hovercraft.

* June 2015 – For most of 2015 we have been operating H-007 ‘Samburgh’ while our own hovercraft is away for major service.

Until recently, the only method of rapid access to these areas has been by helicopter, and surface access has been limited to walking, using mud mats and crawling boards.

The hovercraft is kept mounted on its own transporter, which allows it to be rapidly transported from location to location by road to wherever it is needed, and can launch from any flat area such as a car park or beach, provided there is enough room. The sponsons can be deflated, reducing the overall width for travel by road.

Hovercraft can rapidly search large areas of mud, sand and shallow water. Lift is provided by two fans that build up air pressure under the craft, and thrust by two large fans mounted on the back that act in the same way as aeroplane propellers. Steering is provided by aerofoil-shaped rudders located at the rear and the height of the craft’s skirt improves its sea-keeping and increases its ride height.

Once the casualty has been located, the hovercraft can settle alongside and provide a large, stable platform. The two inflatable sponsons provide stability and additional buoyancy and offer a soft edge for casualty recovery.

The hovercraft carries specialised mud rescue equipment to release a trapped casualty as well as basic first aid equipment.

Date introduced:

2002​ – at New Brighton since 2004

Launch type:

From flat bed transporter​

Number in fleet:

4 at station plus 3 in relief fleet​

Crew:

2-4​

Length:

6.88m​

Beam/width:

3.36m​

Displacement:

3.86 tonnes​

Max speed:

30 knots​

Fuel capacity:

​127 litres

Range/endurance:

​3 hours at full speed

Construction:

Marine-grade aluminium with moulded fibre-reinforced composite​

Engines:

​2 x VW 1.9 turbo diesel

Survivor capacity:

​6

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