April 30, 2021
Berthon RIB Solutions is working for the Jersey Lifeboat Association (JLA) to build the fastest inshore rescue vessel in the Channel Islands. Following sea trials aboard a standard Gemini WR880, JLA coxswain Andy Hibbs confirmed JLA’s intent to purchase a WR880 after being impressed with its outstanding sea-keeping abilities, plus Gemini’s proven track record of keeping life safe at sea, supplying the RIBs for NSRI (which is the South African equivalent of the RNLI), and which operates on some of the most hostile waters in the world where the Atlantic, Indian and Southern Oceans meet.
Andy Hibbs and his team, all experienced lifeboat crew, created a detailed specification to meet the operational requirement of a modern search & rescue RIB. The RIB is powered by twin Mercury 225hp outboard motors, giving a top operational speed of 50+ knots, being supplied by two 300 litre long-range fuel tanks. Elements of the Gemini WR880, such as the A-Frame, have been re-designed to accommodate the specification. The Gemini team worked for many hours to design a platform to accommodate the extensive suite of on-board electronics that will assist the JLA crew in locating and rescuing persons including radar, remote-control searchlights, DF antenna, and two FLIR cameras. On-board crew communications is through a wireless Diamond system, provided by Big Blue maritime, which is also connected to the RIB’s VHF radio.
The advanced water ballast system, supplied by Salmon Power Sports, is the system of choice in service with the RNLI, guaranteeing the stability of the boat through rough sea states.
The inflatable tubes are made from commercial-grade DTEX 1670 Orca Hypalon. The RIB is also fitted with the latest shock mitigation seating from Shoxs, which serves an important dual purpose: as well as keeping the crew comfortable, this advanced seating mitigates whole body vibration, enabling the crew to complete their rescue upon arrival at the casualty, ready to assist, not worn out having experienced a debilitating rough ride. The seats are mounted on a track system which allows for a flexible layout giving deck space options to suit different operations.
The £200,000 needed to buy the Gemini WR880 RIB has been raised entirely by local donors. Andy commented: ‘As a Jersey charity, it is incredible to be able to fund this new RIB purely through local donations, particularly given the pandemic. The vessel will be a fantastic asset for the station, crew and all those that use Jersey waters’.