June 1, 2012 (Chesapeake, VA) – Charleston Harbor salvage support company Southeast Ocean Response Services put out the call for a fast-response fireboat that could carry divers, cargo and passengers, go faster than 30 knots, measure less than 65 feet long and have an integrated foam firefighting system. Gladding-Hearn Shipbuilding, naval architects from C. Raymond Hunt Associates and Volvo Penta were able to answer that call by joining forces to create a custom response boat unlike any other. “There’s never been a boat like this,” says Port Manager, Walter Prause, “we are bringing services to Charleston’s waterfront that do not currently exist.”
The plans were already on the drawing board when the design team was introduced to Volvo Penta’s D13-1050 power and IPS 3 drives. Winn Willard, Vice President C. Raymond Hunt Associates recalls, “We went with triple IPS drives because we could use smaller engines and still get the required speed with 30 percent improved fuel efficiency and EPA Tier 3 technology.” Not only will three D13 diesels offer the power and efficiency that engineers need, but the center engine can be switched over to power the fire pump. “And that was the solution we had been searching for,” Willard says.
In addition to being more fuel efficient, maneuverable and easier to operate, the IPS pods have another advantage over traditional propellers or jet drives. “The boat runs like it is on rails,” says Willard. He continued: “A pod acts like a fin that improves tracking and stability at high speed. When entering or exiting a turn, there is no vibration or slide.”
Through the whole design process, Volvo Penta engineers and technicians have supported the team’s efforts. “Their engineers provided us with the numbers we needed,” Willard says, pointing to estimates on fuel consumption and speed that helped the architects fine-tune their design. Volvo Penta technicians also assisted with applications engineering and other installation details at the yard. Even after the boat is completed, Volvo Penta’s network of service centers will support the power system for years to come.
The European market has already embraced Volvo Penta IPS in commercial applications from ferry boats to patrol boats to pilot and hospital boats. Willard predicts the US market isn’t far behind. “This is the first boat of its kind in the US,” he says, “but I think we’ll see a lot more like it as designers and customers search for more fuel efficiency, improved maneuverability, and flexibility in performance and design.”