Commercial Boatbuilding Service

Traditional Boat Building Techniques and the Modern Boat Building Industry

Berthon has a rich history of building classic boats in the UK, servicing both the British and international commercial markets. Based in Lymington, Hampshire, Berthon employs over 100 skilled craftsmen working from modern shipyard facilities, continuing the UK’s long boatbuilding heritage. Their modern expertise has developed from a foundation of traditional boat build techniques, such as wooden hull construction and intricate woodwork, requiring specialised building skills.

The modern era has seen the evolution of boatbuilding techniques and materials, from traditional wooden construction to the use of steel, aluminium, fiberglass, and advanced composites. Also, tools and innovations like computer-aided design have significantly impacted the shipbuilding industry’s efficiency, and so the capabilities of boatbuilders.

Private and Public Sector Works

Berthon has been building workboats in their boatyard since 1877, catering to both private and public sector clients. In more recent times, this has included the production of pilot boats, barges, and several classes of all-weather lifeboats for the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) using various construction methods. Berthon’s work for the RNLI highlights the industry’s crucial role in maritime safety and rescue operations.

Over the last 30 years, Berthon has built 36 all-weather lifeboats for the RNLI, including the Arun and Severn class lifeboats and, most recently, 12 of the new Shannon class fast lifeboats. These vessels must meet stringent safety and performance standards set by regulatory bodies and classification societies.

Innovative Build and Production Strategies

Berthon developed innovative build and production line strategies that helped optimise build productivity while minimising costs for the RNLI. The ‘open-sky’ hull construction process enabled the best possible access for engineers and lifting equipment, while simultaneously allowing extensive fitting out of the deck and wheelhouse prior to the assembly and finishing of the vessel. This approach helped mitigate the amount of work required to complete the build when the hull and deck were closed up. Being able to assess the state of production easily, and at any point in time, improved both the productivity of the workforce and health and safety aspects of the builds.

How design & production are linked

Berthon understands the fundamental link between design and production, particularly the huge impact that design information has on productivity. Drawing packs and parts lists are structured to match the build processes, thereby ensuring that their skilled boat builders and shipwrights have the right information and the right parts at the right time to complete the job effectively. All the parts, adhesives, fasteners, consumables, and PPE for each job are pre-delivered to the lineside workplace, thereby increasing efficiency.

These strategies demonstrate the industry and Berthon’s focus on optimising processes, reducing waste, and improving sustainability through efficient resource utilisation and minimising environmental impact.

Build Register

Berthon keeps a record of boat builds dating back to 1840. It is possible to view or search the register by clicking the link below. This register serves as a valuable resource for preserving our boatbuilding knowledge, traditions and history.

In addition to on-the-job training, boatbuilding education and apprenticeship programs play a crucial role in knowledge transfer and skill development within the industry. These programs help ensure the continuation of boatbuilding craftsmanship and the preservation of cultural heritage.

Custom Built Gemini RIBs

For many years, Gemini RIBs have been in operation with many prestigious organisations throughout the world, including the Royal Navy, United Nations, UK Police Force, Royal Australian Navy, Royal New Zealand Navy, special forces around the world, and many more. This highlights the global reach and diverse applications of the boatbuilding industry, serving both commercial and military clients.

Make an enquiry

If you would like to discuss your boat design with us, one of our project managers would be happy to run through your requirements with you.


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